GoodRx leaked user health data to Facebook and Google, FTC says
Since 2017, more than 55 million people have used or visited GoodRx’s mobile apps or website, the FTC said. From 2017 to 2020, the company “disclosed extremely intimate and sensitive details” to third-party ad technology and marketing companies like Facebook, Google, Criteo and Twilio, according to the complaint, repeatedly breaching its public promises not to. do it. The data that was leaked, the agency said, could link users to chronic physical and mental health issues, including substance abuse.
GoodRx also did not impose limits on how Facebook, Google and other companies could use their customers’ health information, federal regulators said, giving third parties the ability to use the data for internal business purposes such as product research and development. Regulators said GoodRx also “failed to maintain sufficient protections” for users’ personal information, such as adequate formal, written privacy and data-sharing policies.
The FTC case centers on GoodRx’s use of tracking tools from Facebook, Google and other companies. Millions of sites and apps use these tools – known as “pixels” and “software development kits” – to track and share data about their users’ activities with third parties for marketing purposes such as ad targeting and marketing. user analysis.
These tracking tools may collect information such as users’ first and last names, email addresses, mobile phone numbers, unique device identifiers, locations, genders and internet protocol addresses or IP. They can also log details of user activities, such as opening an app, clicking a link, or viewing information about a specific disease or drug.
Although such data sharing is prevalent in consumer sectors like retail and travel, the FTC complaint said GoodRx’s use of tracking tools to share personal health data with advertising platforms had led to misleading and unauthorized data disclosures – an argument that challenges the status quo in digital. health industry.
GoodRx said it removed the Facebook tracking pixel nearly three years ago.
In recent years, the FTC has intensified its focus on health privacy.
In 2021, the FTC accused the developer of Flo, a health tracking app used by more than 100 million women, of misleading users about its data handling practices by sharing intimate health details. about their periods and pregnancies with Google and Facebook. Flo agreed to a settlement with the agency that prohibited the company from misleading users about privacy and required it to obtain their consent before sharing their health information.
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