They count how many steps and kilometers you’ve covered, remind you to take your medication, and provide you with info on fitness issues: Health apps are the latest trend, with almost half of smartphone users already using them.
Data on physical fitness, weight, or health-related problems is among the most intimate of personal data. Yet most smartphone users are happy to record such data with an app. As a representative poll conducted on behalf of German digital association Bitkom found, 45% of smartphone users already use at least one such app, and as many again can imagine doing so in the future. Only one in ten of those surveyed stated that they don’t really want to use health apps, or would never do so – a quarter of them are worried that the data stored could fall into the wrong hands.
And not without good reason, given that consumer watchdogs are warning that these apps should be used with caution. Experts from Verbraucherzentrale NRW (the consumer advice center of North Rhine-Westphalia) have investigated a number of wearables and fitness apps. The result : The majority of the apps send a wealth of information, including personal health data, to the providers in question. From their investigation, the consumer watchdogs concluded that consumers are barely ever able to monitor their own data generated when using a wearable or fitness app.