FTC-building-sign-AH

FTC Takes Action Against Apps Claiming To Be Able To Detect Melanoma

February 24, 2015 - Written By Palash Volvoikar

It is a common saying these days that there is an app for everything. We would have vouched for that statement, if only the app marketplaces weren’t flooded with thousands of apps which, very confidently, promise to perform a function, but in reality, turn out to be just a hoax. The Federal Trade Commission of the United States of America, has just decided to fine two such apps, MelApp and Mole Detector, both of which promise to detect if you have Melanoma or not.

The two apps seem to be quite similar, with both requiring the user to take a photograph of their mole, and input other data regarding the same and the apps then returns the supposed diagnosis to the user, rating the Melanoma risk of the mole as low, medium or high. The FTC has said the marketers of the apps falsely claimed that their apps had high accuracy and could detect Melanoma in the early stages. The complaints regarding these apps said that the claims of the app makers lacked scientific support, according to the FTC.

Mole Detective was originally made and marketed by New Consumer Solutions LLC, in January 2012. The marketing of the app was later taken over by U.K.-based L Health Ltd., in August 2012. In the settlement with the FTC, the New Consumer Solutions LLC, has been fined $3,930, and is henceforth prohibited from making any similar misleading apps or services, unless they have clear scientific proof to back their claims. FTC will pursue the matter legally with the defendants from L Health Ltd., who have not agreed to settle. MelApp, marketed by Health Discovery Corporation from the year 2011, has also faced prohibitions similar to the ones faced by Mole detective, and has been fined $17,963.

Jessica Rich, the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, has stated that the truth in advertising laws apply in the mobile marketplace, as well, and that the makers of such apps should bear the scientific evidence to back the claims they make.

This is not the first time the FTC has interfered to check up on Android apps. This has happened quite a few times before, like the time it investigated Snapchat over privacy concerns, or when it questioned Amazon’s app purchase policy. Do you think the FTC should be checking up on apps more, less, or not at all? Let us know in the comments.