In the wake of Apple’s announcement about it’s new Healthkit, I offered some commentary on the initiative, and expressed some skepticism about Apple’s assurances that it was not interested in our health data, but just wanted to collect it, and make it available to health app developers. The bottom line is that businesses want that data in order to market to us, and to sell it to the highest bidder.
Well, Apple seems to be announcing some changes in strategy, and this is a good start. Fences have been placed around the developers who use Apple Health, in the form of updates to the developer program license agreement. Developers will be obliged to agree to, “not sell an end-user’s health information collected through the HealthKit API to advertising platforms, data brokers or information resellers.” This is certainly welcome news, and a move in the right direction.
You can be sure, however, that the lawyers on the side of application developers are combing through the legalese with a fine toothed comb, looking for ways to leverage the data without running afoul of Apple, and they will probably be successful to some degree.
In the end, software developers and businesses are not driven by altruism. They want to make money, and in our modern world, data can mean lots of money if it is leveraged well.
We have also learned that license agreements are only as good as their most recent revision. We have all “clicked OK” in order to accept updated terms and agreements for the services and applications that we use, and most often this is done without giving much thought to what we are agreeing to. We have been conditioned to appreciate the value that a “free app” provides to us without giving much thought to why it is free in the first place.
I applaud Apple’s move, and certainly look forward to seeing some commentary from the legal world here. I also trust Apple more than I trust Facebook, but there is only so much trust one can place in a corporate entity. Leadership changes, and boards w ant to see financial rewards in the end. Apple is not accountable to its users and their privacy concerns, but to its stakeholders. And, again, data is money, if it is well leveraged.
The masses will probably flock to the new iDevices that Apple releases, as they always do, and I suspect that the Apple terms and agreements (for developers and end-users) will be updated as users become reliant and dependent upon these new gadgets. I hope that I am wrong.