back to article Seriously, stop claiming your two-buck photo app can detect cancer

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reached a final settlement with an app developer accused of misleading people into believing its software could detect skin cancer. The commission said Health Discovery Corporation, the makers of the $1.99 MelApp application for iPhones, will no longer be able to claim that it can …

  1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    "pay a fine of $17,693"

    I've always thought that if you build something like this and claim medical benefits, then you should be on the hook to pay for the medical expenses for users that took the advice of the app and that advice was incredibly wrong.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Land o'Goshen! That seems to be a real photo!

    Or at least Bridgeman are cheerfully selling it as a 1940s advert litho:

    http://www.bridgemanimages.com/en-GB/asset/375525/american-school-20th-century/advertisement-for-snake-oil-1940s-litho

    1940s seems rather too late: decades after boring regulations started insisting that active ingredients be present and even coincide somewhat with the label. So perhaps the full page would reveal it as a callback to the dark past, e.g. "No more 'Snake Oil' cures for mothers' little woes, thanks to Science and all-new cherry-zest Thalidomide!"?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And herein lies the problem...

    This company probably netted millions from this scam in edition to causing considerable harm to many people and they only pay a $17K fine. This is precisely what is wrong with the FTC and why consumer fraud grown exponentially in the U.S.. Just as with Microsucks, if you can reap billions annually from defrauding consumers and violating anti-trust laws and the fine is a few million dollars or Euros, the net is BILLIONS in profit from fraud.

    The FCC and FTC are a disgrace and have failed the populace.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And herein lies the problem...

      Down voted for the utterly unnecessary Microsoft comment...

      And you started off so eloquently.

    2. Ben Trabetere

      Re: And herein lies the problem...

      While I agree the penalty should be much harsher for dubious medical claims like this, $17K could cripple a company like Health Discovery. I glanced at the financials (HDVY:OTC US), and to my untrained eyes it appears as if it isn't netting much of anything. 2014 showed a Net Profit of $200K on Total Revenue of $1M. Stock is at $0.015 and falling, and the cash flow is a trickle.

  4. Indolent Wretch

    I hope they actually investigated whether such servers were actually making an attempt to do some sort of image recognition to detect melanoma and not just chucking the bytes to /dev/null.

    That's the difference between a bunch of people peddling an unlicensed, illegal, poorly researched, likely ineffectual diagnosis but possibly with good intentions... And a bunch of guaranteed crooks profiteering of the sick and/or scared.

    1. stu 4

      eh ?

      by that logic every homeopathic practitioner has good intentions and is different from 'crooks profiteering of the sick and/or scared'

      I maintain they are in fact, exactly the same...if not worse since they don't limit themselves to claiming their bullshit only identifies skin cancer.

  5. Dan Paul

    Who's to say even the Doctor is correct?

    Had a small stroke and the doctors were so sure it was a heart attack. Then almost a year later, I have a full blown stroke, same but worse symptoms and they finally "get it" and we have a "correct" diagnosis. The second angioplasty did more damage to my body (pinched/torn groin nerves) than the stroke did as I got the TPA (Clot Dissolver) in about 1/2 an hour (fastest application in the US) and all was well within 10 hours. If they had left out the angio I could have been back to work full time in a couple days but the nerve damage kept me out for a couple weeks and left me with a limp and numbness.

    Are the Quacks any less capable than the Doctors? I can't really be sure.....

    For many years, "Doctors" used to prescribe a type of Mercury for Syphilis, they used to "bleed" patients to cure them, they used electric spark and light generators to "cure" patients.

    The issue is that the medical "proffession" isn't exactly sure who's wrong and who's right.

    Thats why they call them "Medical Practioners", because they are always practicing.

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