The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has taken a number of actions this year against healthcare apps based on data practices that FTC alleges are a violation of federal law. The latest enforcement action, on May 17, 2023, is against Easy Healthcare Corporation (“Easy Healthcare”), which operates the Premom ovulation tracker application (“Premom”), for allegedly violating Section 5 of the FTC Act and the Health Breach Notification Rule (“HBNR”).
The FTC alleges that Easy Healthcare deceived users by disclosing users’ sensitive health data with third parties and failed to notify consumers of these unauthorized disclosures in violation of the HBNR. The proposed order, which was brought by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, imposes a civil penalty of $100,000 and prohibits Easy Healthcare from sharing user personal health data with third parties for advertising, among other requirements. As part of a related action, Easy Healthcare has agreed to pay an additional $100,000 to Connecticut, the District of Columbia, and Oregon for violating their respective laws.
The latest enforcement action against Premom follows recent FTC actions against GoodRx Holdings, Inc. for violating Section 5 of the FTC Act and the HBNR and BetterHelp, Inc. for violating Section 5 of the FTC Act, which appears to be part of a larger effort by the FTC to monitor the practices of websites, apps, and connected devices that capture consumer’s sensitive health information. The action also signals the FTC’s spotlight on companies’ use of reproductive health data, particularly in menstrual cycle and fertility applications, in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (“Dobbs”) decision.
Digital health companies and other organizations across the health care industry should take note of the trend of enforcement actions and evaluate their business policies and practices.
For more detailed information, see FTC Announces Enforcement Action Against Ovulation Tracking App Premom.