FTC zeros in on telehealth startups sharing consumer data with third parties

The Federal Trade Commission said it is expecting to look into more telehealth startups who are sharing consumer data with third parties, The Wall Street Journal reported March 26. 

Telehealth apps that have been adopting data-sharing practices are likely to face scrutiny by the FTC as the organization looks to increase its watch over consumer health data and privacy. 

"We're very concerned by how easy it is for consumers to hand over their most sensitive information," Miles Plant, senior privacy and data security attorney at the FTC, told the Journal.  

Mr. Plant said the FTC will focus on how transparent the companies are about what data they are collecting, who they are disclosing it to and what they're using it for. 

This comes after the FTC cracked down on GoodRx and BetterHelp. 

GoodRx was required to pay $1.5 million to resolve that it was sharing patient data to advertise on Facebook and Google, as well had to notify its users that their information was improperly disclosed. 

Online therapy company BetterHelp, which is owned by Teladoc, was also required to pay $7.8 million to resolve allegations that it shared patients' sensitive health information to Facebook, Snapchat, Criteo and Pinterest for marketing purposes. 

"The fact that the agency is seeking money in a case like this is a strong signal that the FTC will continue to focus on health-privacy issues and will be broadly interpreting its authority," Daniel Kaufman, former deputy director of the FTC's bureau of consumer protection told the Journal.

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