Tim Cook already being questioned about Apple Watch and privacy

Apple Watch (lifestyle 001)

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced this afternoon that he’s sent a letter to Tim Cook regarding the new Apple Watch and user privacy. Jepsen wants Cook to explain what data the device will collect, how that data will be stored, and what Apple’s policies are on apps that access health information.

Specifically, Jepsen asks whether Apple will allow consumers to store personal/health info on its servers, and if so. how will that information be safeguarded. He also wants to know what kind of data Apple Watch will collect from users, and how it and its developers plan to obtain consent for this collection from users.

Here are the 5 big questions from Jepsen’s letter:

  • Whether Apple will allow consumers to store personal and health information on Apple Watch itself and/or on its servers, and if so, how information will be safeguarded;
  • If and how Apple will review application privacy policies to ensure that users’ health information is safeguarded;
  • If and how Apple intends to enforce policies that require the rejection of applications that provide diagnoses, treatment advice, or control hardware designed to diagnose or treat medical conditions that do not provide written regulatory approval;
  • What information Apple Watch and its applications will collect from users, and how Apple and application developers will obtain consent to collect and share such information from these individuals; and
  • How Apple intends to monitor and enforce applications’ compliance with its guidelines concerning users’ health information.

Interestingly enough, Apple has already answered some of these questions in its recently-updated App Store review guidelines. The company tells developers that HealthKit data is not allowed to be stored in iCloud, and apps are not allowed to share HealthKit data with third parties without the user’s express consent.

Still, the Attorney General’s concerns aren’t unwarranted. Apple has taken a lot of criticism in recent weeks over user privacy. In early September, the company’s lackadaisical security measures were blamed in the alleged hacking of a number of celebrity iCloud accounts and subsequential leaking of their nude photos.

Apple unveiled the Apple Watch during a high profile media event last week. The device boasts a wide range of features, including the ability to read and respond to messages, emails and various other notifications, and track a user’s heart rate and movement. Prices begin at $349, and it will be available early next year.

[ct.gov via Bloomberg]