Conn. Attorney General Wants to Talk Privacy with Apple

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Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen wants assurance from Apple Corp. that the Apple Watch product coming in 2015 has sufficient privacy protections.

Jepsen, in a recent letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, noted he was encouraged by company statements that personal health information on the watch will be encrypted and consumers will choose which applications can access their data.

Questions remain, however, on how privacy provisions will be implemented and enforced, Jepsen said. While Apple guidelines state that applications lacking a privacy policy will be rejected, the attorney general asks if Apple will review contents of app developers’ privacy policies to ensure privacy safeguards are in place.

(See also: Apple Watch Takes Tech Giant into New Territory)

While Jepsen seeks a meeting with Apple personnel on how Connecticut consumers will be protected, his actions could have ramifications beyond the state. Activist attorneys general, particularly in New York and Connecticut, often set the table for others to take action on privacy issues, such as HIPAA violations.

In Jepsen’s letter, issues to be discussed at a meeting with Apple include:

* Specific applications and functions on Apple Watch and when it will be available;

* Whether consumers can store personal and health information on the watch itself or on servers, and how such information will be safeguarded;

* Information the watch and apps will collect from users and how consent will be obtained to collect and share the information;

* How Apple will monitor and enforce app compliance with its guidelines on health information; and

* Whether Apple will request documentation of regulatory approval for apps that are regulated and how the company will enforce the requirement.

“This letter is an invitation for dialogue, not an accusation against Apple,” Jepsen concludes. “As Attorney General, I have invited other technology companies to discuss privacy questions regarding upcoming products. Those discussions have been amicable, productive and mutually beneficial in addressing privacy questions in a proactive fashion.”


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