A photo editing app that has recently gone viral for its age filter now owns access to more than 150 million people’s faces and names. It makes an amusing social media post, but according to its user agreement, the company now owns a never-ending, irrevocable royalty-free licence to do almost anything it wishes with this information.
How many people understood the terms and conditions before signing up for the app, or really, for any app? Hardly anyone, as research indicates more than 90 per cent of people accept legal terms and conditions without ever actually reading them.
While the benefits of technological innovation may be easy to see—many times in the form of instant gratification—what is more important to consider are the long-term risks. What exactly are we sharing and who exactly are we sharing it with?
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal tested 24 top-rated and publicly available medication apps—all interactive applications that provided information about medication dispensing, administration or use. Research found that 19 out of 24 apps shared personal data collected with third parties.
However, there are digital health tools and services that are doing things right. For example, PrescribeIT® is a national electronic prescribing service, operated and maintained by Canada Health Infoway, used by more than 1,000 physicians throughout the country. It is transitioning prescriptions from being heavily reliant on paper and faxes to becoming fully electronic, with secure end-to-end encryption for all shared personal health information, ensuring that critical user data remains confidential and is only used for its explicitly intended purpose.
Before signing up for the next popular photo-sharing or digital health tool, it’s important that we read the small print because when it comes to our health and privacy, we may not be ready to “accept” the risk. This sensitive information must remain safe and protected with trusted applications and trusted parties such as doctors, pharmacists and care providers. — Mario Voltolina, Chief Technology Officer, Canada Health Infoway.