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Digital rendering of a padlock While nurses, hospitals and other health care providers abide by privacy protections put in place by HIPAA, the burgeoning sector of health care apps has skimpier shields for users. (Image: Tex vector/Shutterstock.com)

Most people have at least a vague sense that someone somewhere is doing mischief with the data footprints created by their online activities: Maybe their use of an app is allowing that company to build a profile of their habits, or maybe they keep getting followed by creepy ads.

It’s more than a feeling. Many companies in the health tech sector — which provides services that range from mental health counseling to shipping attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder pills through the mail — have shockingly leaky privacy practices.

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