Fertility app company accused of sharing private data to sell ads settles with FTC

The Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement Jan. 13 with Flo Health, a fertility and period health tracking app, for allegedly sharing users' personal data with companies, including Facebook, when it promised such information would be kept private. 

In its complaint, the FTC alleges that Flo promised to keep users' data private but instead disclosed data to third parties that offered marketing and analytics services to the app, including Facebook's analytics division and Google's analytics division.

Data shared by Flo Health, including whether users were ovulating, was then used to target online ads to users, according to The Wall Street Journal

Facebook and Google did not respond to the Journal's request for comments, but in a statement to the publication, a Flo Health spokesperson said the company cooperated with the FTC and that it is "committed to ensuring that the privacy of our users’ personal health data is absolutely paramount.”

Flo Health said it did not share users' names, addresses or birthdays and that its agreement with the FTC is not an admission of wrongdoing but allowed the company to "avoid the time and expense of litigation and decisively put this matter behind us," according to the report. 

The FTC's vote on the proposed settlement was 5-0. If the proposition becomes final after public comment, it would require Flo Health to undergo an independent review of its privacy practices and get users' consent before sharing their health information. Flo would also have to alert consumers of the FTC charges that it shared users' personal data without their consent. 


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