COVID-19 Symptom Checker Used In The US Has Worrisome Privacy Policy

One specific COVID-19 symptom checker that is used in parts of the US has a rather worrisome privacy policy, reports BuzzFeed. This is Vital’s COVID-19 symptom checker, by the way.

Vital, for those of you who don’t know, is an emergency room software company. This software is supposed to help you decide whether you should go to the emergency room, or self-quarantine.

Vital’s COVID-19 symptom checker tool has a rather worrisome privacy policy

That being said, there’s one specific entry in its privacy policy that is quite worrisome. It says that Vital is allowed to sell location and other identifying data gathered with the tool to advertisers.

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To be perfectly clear, this is what it says: “we may use a type of advertising commonly known as interest-based or online behavioral advertising”. Vital was fast to answer to BuzzFeed’s story, as the company’s spokesperson had to comment.

The name of the company’s spokesperson is Marth Shaughnessy. She said that the company has not, and would never sell personal data gathered using the tool. She also added that its privacy policy did not reflect the company’s advertising policies.

The company’s co-founder admits its mistake, and claims your data is safe

The company’s co-founder, Aaron Patzer, said that the company will update its terms of service to reflect its actual practices. He admitted that the company “moved too fast” on its privacy policy, and terms of service. It made them broad because that’s the easiest thing to do.

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So, it seems like there’s nothing to worry about. Vital included such entry just for the peace of mind, and has no interest in selling your data to advertisers.

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Vital’s COVID-19 symptom checker is made for Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties. So, it’s not used across the US, just in some counties.

This tool asks you for several pieces of information when you run it. It asks for your age, gender, zip code, and symptoms. It also wants to know if you have any underlying health conditions.

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The tool does collect information about location and web browsing history. So, it has quite a few information to use, and according to Vital, that information is safe.

Interestingly enough, Vital was co-founded by Aaron Patzer, the same person who founded Mint. Mint is a far more popular service for personal finance.

That is pretty much it. Vital does need to tweak its privacy policy, as this definitely doesn’t look good. It’s a good thing the company was fast to respond, and honest about its mistake. So, you can expect to see an updated privacy policy soon enough.

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