Privacy Pro and Con: Apple Working on Storing Your Medical Records in your iPhone

Privacy continues to be a hot topic right now, and fortunately, there are some pretty strict laws in effect to help ensure that you have a measure of control over your information. While these laws can and do get broken all the time, they still serve as a safety net that provides for legal prosecution following wrongdoing.

When a new technology or capability crops up, privacy advocates immediately start to wonder how this will affect people and their data, and a recent report about tech giant Apple has experts pondering the pros and cons. The innovators behind the iPhone, iPad, and a host of other advancements are looking into a way for consumers to store their complete medical histories in their iPhones.

This isn’t to be confused with the information in your device’s pre-installed Health app. That app will store optional information like your height and weight, your blood type, and your emergency contact, along with serving as a small fitness tracker to give you a sense of how much effort you’re putting forth. Instead, Apple is talking about records like your last blood test, that MRI of your knee that you had three years ago (complete with the actual images), and so much more.

If you’re the least bit privacy-minded, you should check your fitness tracker now because your heart rate probably just shot up a little. In this era of record setting data breaches, hacking events, and ransomware attacks, the last thing you might want is a handheld device storing your most personal physical data.

But at the same time, if you use your smartphone the way most consumers do, it can already provide a thief with access to your bank account, your address, your account logins, pictures of your children, and more. If you’re able to safeguard your phone to the point that you can keep a criminal out of your bank account (typically with things like a strong password and two-step authentication), you can keep him out of your medical records, too.

Why would Apple even want to consider putting consumers at this much risk—while also taking on the potential liability for having a billion customers’ medical data compromised? Currently, the process of exchanging medical information among different doctors’ offices and hospitals is not streamlined. It involves privacy waivers and records requests, and then there’s the issue of tech compatibility; not all facilities use the same systems, so sometimes they share your files and those records can’t be opened by the person requesting it. Apple’s plans would make the process of sharing vital data more straightforward and completely compatible.

As with all new innovation, there are security concerns that have to be thought out and addressed. Some innovation might seem invasive or even scary, but many of those concerns can be overcome with thorough understanding of the technology involved and strong safeguards.


Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

Read next: The Harm in Hoaxes on Social Media 

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