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HHS Wants You to Make Easy-to-Read Privacy Label for Fitness Trackers

Six fitness tracking devices measuring step counts and other fitness features are worn Wednesday July 20, 2016.

Six fitness tracking devices measuring step counts and other fitness features are worn Wednesday July 20, 2016. // Bebeto Matthews/AP

If you're a company like Fitbit, what’s the best way to tell customers what health information you’re collecting from them?

The Health and Human Services Department is trying to simplify that process for companies collecting consumer health data by proposing an online, open-source tool that can generate a sort of privacy “nutrition label.”

HHS is calling on designers and health data privacy experts to build this generator so tech companies can quickly customize them and push them out to consumers. Consumers could then easily compare different companies' privacy policies and see how they may share their data.

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The notices shouldn’t be static documents (such as .pdfs) but could include images or be interactive, according to HHS. Participants will submit the code for the open-source tool on GitHub and should test the generator with at least five people.

Submissions for a “Model Privacy Notice” generator will be collected until April 10, 2017, and winners will be announced in the summer of next year.

First place winners get $20,000; second place $10,000 and third place $5,000. Submissions will be judged on the accuracy of the privacy notice content, consumer testing and web design, visual appeal, and ease of use for developers trying to customize the notices.

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