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FYI: GoodRx Shares Data With Google, Facebook, and Others

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https://www.consumerreports.org/health-privacy/goodrx-shares-users-health-data-with-google-facebook-others/
 

“To determine how GoodRx shares data, we monitored traffic using a data packet-capturing tool to observe the company's Android mobile app and website as we searched for deals on a number of prescription medications.

Several of the company’s business partners received the names of the medications, along with ID numbers and other information that can be used to single out individuals. The data can reveal intimate information that many people would keep private from all but their close friends and family.

As a test, we looked for discounts on Lexapro, an antidepressant; PrEP and Edurant, used to prevent and treat HIV, respectively; Cialis, for erectile dysfunction; Clomid, a medication used in fertility treatments; and Seroquel, an antipsychotic often prescribed to control schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

With the information coming off our test phone and browser, a company could infer highly intimate details about GoodRx users suffering from serious chronic conditions, and make educated guesses about their sexual orientation.

Among the companies receiving the information was a marketing company called Braze, which learned the names of the drugs, the pharmacies where we sought to fill prescriptions, and ID numbers that advertising and analytics companies use to track the behavior of specific consumers across the web.  

Like other companies we talked to, Braze assured Consumer Reports that the data collected isn’t shared broadly with data brokers or advertising companies, and is only used to help GoodRx target its own users with information.

Similarly, a company called Branch said it only uses the data it collects from GoodRx to make sure that links within the mobile app work correctly. GoodRx executives say the company doesn’t sell or share users’ health data with other companies to support targeted advertising.

“When we believe a user is running out of medication, we use Braze to email or text a reminder," says Thomas Goetz, chief of research at GoodRx. "We may also notify users when we are able to find a better price for their prescription,” he said. “To reach new customers who might find GoodRx useful, we place advertisements for GoodRx on third-party platforms, including Facebook and Google, and retarget users who have visited GoodRx to encourage them to come back and use the service.”

Both Google and Facebook deny using prescription information for targeting individuals with ads. “We prohibit personalized advertising and advertising profiles based on sensitive information, including a user’s prescriptions,” a Google spokesperson told CR by email. 

A Facebook spokesperson wrote, “We don’t want websites sharing people’s personal health information with us—it’s a violation of our policies. After an initial review, we think GoodRx’s use of our business tools requires a deeper investigation, and we’re reaching out to the company.”

Our testing of the GoodRx app and website was led by Bill Fitzgerald, a privacy researcher in CR’s Digital Lab. “We observed sensitive information being passed along," he says. "If Facebook doesn’t want this information, and GoodRX doesn’t want to send it, it shouldn’t be happening. The app and site don’t need to be designed this way.””

 

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Seriously! On the one hand, it's a free service to the user so they have to make $ somewhere. On the other, does any company give a though to privacy anymore? We don't use many medications so I've only ever used it a handful of times. Guess I'll go ahead and delete the app.

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On 2/27/2020 at 6:40 AM, ashfern said:

does any company give a though to privacy anymore?

Not really, because most people are convinced that it doesn't matter if companies monetize everything about their existence. 

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2 hours ago, OKBud said:

Not really, because most people are convinced that it doesn't matter if companies monetize everything about their existence. 

 

Or it doesn't matter how strong your principles are if you can't afford the out-of-pocket cost for your medicine. Particularly if you're also paying for insurance and the insurance company decided it didn't want to cover your medicine. 

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1 hour ago, OH_Homeschooler said:

 

Or it doesn't matter how strong your principles are if you can't afford the out-of-pocket cost for your medicine. Particularly if you're also paying for insurance and the insurance company decided it didn't want to cover your medicine. 

 

This is true. And why we must never stop raging against these companies whenever an opportunity to rage against them comes up. While they do this, they unethically use patient and consumer data in conjunction with 'consumer driven healthcare' or whatever they're calling it today. Both, at the same time. But the fact is that most people don't have anything approaching principles around privacy to compromise in the first place, as long as they get what they want. That is an attitude that has been crafted for us and handed down from on high, and most of us have accepted it to the extent that we rail against anyone who goes, "hmm what's up with that?" or "that's messed up" or, Lord Currency forbid, "they shouldn't do that."

These companies and the people behind them freaking SUCK, full stop. The harm that they do almost can not be overstated.

Edited by OKBud
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