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FTC fines apps that falsely claimed to detect melanoma using smartphone camera


The FTC is fining the creators of two different smartphone apps, both of which were previously available as paid apps on Google Play and the App Store, for falsely claiming to detect symptoms of melanoma. Most versions of the apps, MelApp and Mole Detective, have long been removed from sale, although a version of Mole Detective remains on Google Play for $4.99. Apple appears to have cracked down on similar apps somewhat that were available on its store as recently as early 2014, while some apps with similar claims continue to be available on Google Play. 

The Federal Trade Commission has challenged marketers for deceptively claiming their mobile apps could detect symptoms of melanoma, even in its early stages. In two separate cases, marketers of MelApp and Mole Detective have agreed to settlements that bar them from continuing to make such unsupported claims. The agency is pursuing charges against two additional marketers of Mole Detective who did not agree to settle.

It’s not the first and it likely won’t be the last time app makers face scrutiny from government officials over health care claims as fitness becomes more of a focus on mobile devices and companion wearables. As recently as November, the FTC was said to be pressing Apple on how it plans to use sensitive health related data collected from its upcoming Apple Watch launching in April.