With WatchKit’s release two days ago and the corresponding possibilities in Apple’s watch ecosystem it’s time to take a first look at what’s been said and done in the privacy related fields so far. What should we reasonably expect to happen in the WatchKit privacy field?

We had previously published a couple of posts regarding the changes that were introduced into Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines with the publication of iOS 8. The main change (in privacy) was the addition of categories of apps with required privacy policies (Apps that link against HealthKit, Apps that link against HomeKit, Third party keyboards, Kids, Apple Pay).

With Apple Watch around the corner, we expect more changes to be coming. What do we know?

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen seeks comments by Apple

The Attorney General of the state of Connecticut George Jepsen sent a letter to Tim Cook/Apple about a meeting regarding issues potentially arising from the use of HealthKit and Apple Watch. The General Attorney’s office also summarized the main questions addressed in said letter. The five questions were ultimately inquiring: 

  1. 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;
  2. If and how Apple will review application privacy policies to ensure that users’ health information is safeguarded;
  3. 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;
  4. 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
  5. How Apple intends to monitor and enforce applications’ compliance with its guidelines concerning users’ health information.

One of these questions has, at least partly, been addressed by Apple before.

HealthKit largely addressed before, more changes to come for WatchKit

The updated App Store Review Guidelines stated that HealthKit apps aren’t allowed to store their users’ health information in iCloud.

27.3 Apps using the HealthKit framework that store users’ health information in iCloud will be rejected

This came with the provision that HealthKit apps have to include a privacy policy.

27.7 Apps using the HealthKit framework must provide a privacy policy or they will be rejected

Going down the road to the release of Apple Watch we’ll almost certainly see a number of additional requirements and thoughts by Apple regarding privacy on these devices and concerning health data. We are expecting the above letter and the connected discussions to bear fruits in the form of a required privacy policy for WatchKit apps in the least.

Given the nature of how the Apple Watch works and the limited space on the display it will be much more important to make that privacy policy visible before installation of the app and have it at least on the corresponding app on the iPhone. 

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