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AMA J Ethics. 2018 Sep 1;20(9):E864-872. doi: 10.1001/amajethics.2018.864.

How Could Commercial Terms of Use and Privacy Policies Undermine Informed Consent in the Age of Mobile Health?

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A postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in La Jolla, and a sociologist and qualitative researcher with an interest in the ethics of cutting edge technology in medicine and public health.
A doctoral student in the San Diego State University-University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology.
An associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health in the Division of Health Policy at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla.


Granular personal data generated by mobile health (mHealth) technologies coupled with the complexity of mHealth systems creates risks to privacy that are difficult to foresee, understand, and communicate, especially for purposes of informed consent. Moreover, commercial terms of use, to which users are almost always required to agree, depart significantly from standards of informed consent. As data use scandals increasingly surface in the news, the field of mHealth must advocate for user-centered privacy and informed consent practices that motivate patients' and research participants' trust. We review the challenges and relevance of informed consent and discuss opportunities for creating new standards for user-centered informed consent processes in the age of mHealth.

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