Apple Blocks Developers From Selling User Health Data to Marketers

Tweaks privacy rules ahead of gadget launches

Apple updated its privacy policy to prohibit the sale of user health data to advertisers, according to The Financial Times. The policy update comes just ahead of an anticipated Sept. 9 launch of the first iWatch and next-generation iPhone, which will both connect to Apple's new health tracking software dubbed HealthKit.

The Financial Times dug into the new iOS developer agreement to find new wording, including a clause that says developers may "not sell an end-user's health information collected through the HealthKit API to advertising platforms, data brokers or information resellers." Also, developers agree not to use the data they collect "for any purpose other than providing health and/or fitness services." 

“HealthKit is aggregating data from what will likely be multiple sources within one location on the device,” Geoff Blaber, an analyst at CCS Insight, told FT. "Apple is being very careful as to how that is utilized or controlled. It's Apple tightening control on developers."

The HealthKit API is expected play a large role in the iWatch, capable of tracking heart rate, calories, blood sugar, sleep and blood oxygen levels. In addition to agreeing to the terms, Apple is also requiring HealthKit developers to include a link to a privacy policy in the app as well.

Apple has met with officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to discuss regulatory concerns, and reports have surfaced that the company is in talks with medical record firms, insurance companies and other healthcare providers about greater integration of information into the Apple system.