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WebMD and Healthline Exposed Violating Your Privacy

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Expert Review by Maryam Henein Fact Checked

medical data sharing

Story at-a-glance -

  • Dozens of popular health websites are tracking, storing and sharing your personal data without explicit consent, including WebMD (the leading health website) and Healthline (currently the third most popular health site)
  • Of 100 health websites, 78% shared user data with DoubleClick, Google’s advertising arm, while 48% shared data with Amazon. Facebook, Microsoft and AppNexus, another advertising firm, also received user data
  • This kind of information sharing is illegal in Europe. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation requires websites to request and obtain explicit consent for the sharing of “special category data,” which includes health data
  • Google claims it does not build advertising profiles from sensitive data and does not permit advertisers to use such data to target ads, yet if not used for advertising, what is the health data being used for, and why is it collected and shared in the first place?
  • A report by the data privacy advocacy group Privacy International revealed mental health websites are also sharing sensitive personal data with third parties without the consent required under EU law. Some websites shared data with third parties in HTTP rather than HTTPS, which means the data, which contains unique identifiers, is susceptible to interception by hackers as well

As reported in a November 12, 2019, Financial Times article, dozens of popular health websites are tracking, storing and sharing your personal data, including WebMD (the leading health website) and Healthline (currently the third most popular health site).

These two websites also, as of this year, dominate Google health searches, which virtually guarantees their continued growth and influence. “Establishment, big corporate pharma websites like WebMD are monopolizing the first page of results,” Google Whistleblower Zach Vorhies confirmed in an interview with The Epoch Times.


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