WASHINGTON, D.C. – The telemedicine company GoodRx will pay a $1.5 million fine for sharing consumers’ sensitive health information with companies like Google and Facebook, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced today. Under a proposed order, GoodRx will be prohibited from sharing user health data with applicable third parties for advertising purposes.
In its complaint against GoodRx, the FTC said the privacy violations first came to light in an investigation by the nonprofit consumer advocacy organization Consumer Reports. CR reported in 2020 that GoodRx was sharing information on its users’ prescriptions with more than 20 companies, including Google and Facebook. At the time, CR found that if you were looking for discounts on the antidepressant Lexapro, the HIV medications PrEP and Eduran, the erectile dysfunction medication Cialis, the fertility treatment medication Clomid, or the antipsychotic Seroquel, that fact was shared by GoodRx behind the scenes.
Marta Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports, said, “This is a win for consumers, and it could have a profound effect on how our health information is kept private moving forward. Three years ago, we discovered that GoodRx was sharing people’s personal health information with more than 20 companies. People told us they’d never expected that their sensitive information was being shared with the likes of Google and Facebook.
“The privacy of our health information shouldn’t be treated like an option – it’s a right. We’re pleased to see the FTC stepping up like this. This could set a strong precedent for keeping some of our most personal and sensitive information private.”
Justin Brookman, Director of Technology Policy at Consumer Reports, said, “Health apps and websites have been giving away our personal data for years without consequence. This case should be a turning point — now companies have to understand that sharing customer data without clear permission will lead to investigations and fines. We’ve seen more aggressive enforcement from regulators all around the globe in recent years — it seems the era of data free-for-alls is belatedly coming to a close.”
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Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports (CR) is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that works with consumers to create a fair and just marketplace. Known for its rigorous testing and ratings of products, CR advocates for laws and company practices that put consumers first. CR is dedicated to amplifying the voices of consumers to promote safety, digital rights, financial fairness, and sustainability. The organization surveys millions of Americans every year, reports extensively on the challenges and opportunities for today’s consumers, and provides ad-free content and tools to 6 million members across the U.S.