Why the FTC is cracking down on healthcare data sharing

The FTC is taking a heightened interest in protecting the privacy of health data online and is cracking down on companies such as GoodRx and Amazon as it looks to take a new approach to regulating data collection. 

For the first time, the FTC used its Health Breach Notification Rule against GoodRx Holdings for "failing to notify consumers and others of its unauthorized disclosures of consumers' personal health information" for years. 

The company, which was illegally sharing patient data to advertise on Facebook and Google, paid $1.5 million to resolve the allegations, as well had to notify its users that their information was improperly disclosed. 

The FTC also banned the company from disclosing health information for advertising purposes in the future.

But, GoodRx isn't the only one. 

The FTC also reached a settlement with online therapy company BetterHelp, which is owned by Teladoc, over similar allegations. 

BetterHelp is now required to pay $7.8 million as it shared patients' sensitive health information to Facebook, Snapchat, Criteo and Pinterest for marketing purposes. 

This is the second time that the FTC has taken action against a healthcare company for alleged data misuse.

The FTC has also issued a warning to Amazon and One Medical. The organization said that both companies must keep healthcare data safe and is prohibited from using it for advertising or marketing purposes.

If not, the FTC warned that Amazon and One Medical could violate Section 5 of the FTC Act. 

The FTC announced in August that it would be exploring new rules to crack down on commercial surveillance and lax data security, as there is currently no law under HIPAA prohibiting the use of healthcare data shared via marketing practices.

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