Apps in Australia Gather Information About Finances and Housing Which Could Be Sold to Advertisers

Companies are able to collect personal data from a range of sources including location tracking, contacts, email addresses and online searches.
30 March 2023

Startling findings reveal that four of Australia's top fertility apps are risking their users' highly sensitive information without their consent. A joint study by the University of New South Wales and consumer group Choice highlights the concerning lack of privacy policies in these apps, potentially leaving the door open to selling this data to other companies. 

Specifically, the privacy policy of BabyCenter raised the alarm, allowing for the collection of user data through other companies and brokers, with the possibility of selling personal information or advertising data within the app. It also allows companies to track in the app unless people opt out of the tracking.

Consumer data advocate at Choice, Kate Bower, expressed her worries about the monetisation of data by these apps, citing the highly personal nature of the information they gather, including details about their sexual activity, menstrual cycles, and pregnancy history. The concern lies not only in the monetisation of data, but in the potential for this sensitive information to fall into the wrong hands.

Bower said while the apps may be sold as a health service, they might be more interested in the data collection. She said in the wake of the Optus and Medibank data breaches, the lack of clear policies from some of the apps over how long the data is held is a cause for concern.

- CyberBeat


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