The first-generation of health apps that allow users to access health information from third-party providers like pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors have come under fire from health advocates and consumers, with some users saying they’ve seen their services completely cut off because they’ve opted out of their privacy settings.
That’s led to a series of lawsuits from health care providers who say they don’t have to inform users that they are opting out of privacy settings to access the information they’re asking for.
In some cases, they’ve even sued for lost revenue.
Ars spoke with three healthcare providers who spoke with Ars about the struggles they faced to get the information in and out of the privacy settings on their apps.
One of the first apps to be accused of violating privacy settings was Google’s health app.
A lawsuit brought by the state of Texas alleges that Google Health has violated the privacy of more than a million Texans, including those who use Google’s mobile health app for medical appointments.
Google’s response to the suit included a video on its YouTube channel that shows an employee at the company’s headquarters explaining the privacy options.
“The privacy settings in your app will allow you to restrict the types of information that are available to third-parties to use and aggregate,” the employee says.
“That’s what we’re doing with Google Health.
We’re not doing it with the third-person privacy settings you might have on other apps.”
The Texas lawsuit also alleges that HealthKit is used to provide a private cloud of health data to third parties without users’ permission.
The complaint says HealthKit collects the data in a way that allows “third parties to view and/or harvest all information that your app receives from your app,” without users ever having to consent to that.
Google Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Ars.
In the wake of the lawsuit, the app has been pulled from the App Store.
Google declined to comment on the specifics of the Texas lawsuit.
HealthKit has also been removed from Apple’s iOS app store.
Google has also responded to concerns about privacy settings by noting that Healthkit is designed to allow users access to the data it collects, and that Health Kit does not have to tell users that it’s doing so.
Google says Health has made improvements to improve privacy controls in HealthKit since we introduced it in 2014.
Google also says Health can now be configured to ask users for permission before collecting data from HealthKit.
The company also says that Health can be used to send data to other apps, and HealthKit can now automatically collect the health data of third parties who use the app for personal health care.
But the Texas suit alleges that users have no control over HealthKit’s privacy settings or privacy settings, and instead that the app violates privacy settings that were made public in June 2016.
“HealthKit is a private app that users don’t even know is collecting and sharing their health information with third parties,” said Elizabeth Dominguez, an attorney for the Texas Health Care Network.
“If they don, then it’s a problem.”
Health apps aren’t the only apps that have been accused of tracking patients and collecting their health data.
A 2016 lawsuit filed by a group of consumers against three healthcare apps accused them of violating patients’ privacy rights by collecting data about their visits to doctors and hospitals.
The group also alleged that the apps were used to collect and share patient data without patients’ permission, including their name, phone number, and health history.
In a court filing, a lawyer for the health apps said the lawsuit was based on “the fact that Health was collecting information about patients without their knowledge, and even that Health used the information to determine which patients would benefit most from a specific plan.”
The lawsuit also alleged the apps had “no controls over the types or levels of data that are collected.”
The Health apps were removed from the Apple App Store, as well as Google’s iOS and Android app stores.
The apps’ makers did not respond to requests for comment on whether they have plans to return to the Apple app store or Google’s Android app store, or whether they plan to take legal action against HealthKit or any of its creators.
The Health app was also removed from Google’s developer dashboard in July 2016.
Health app developer Tom Foschini said the removal of the app is part of a broader trend in healthcare apps, where developers are increasingly pushing their apps to a more personalized experience that doesn’t rely on users’ information.
“People are starting to realize that apps that are built for the home aren’t built for people who are visiting the hospital,” he said.