The potential threat comes after the US Supreme Court overturn the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade legal ruling.
Period Tracking and Fertility Apps Can Put You at Risk After Roe V Wade Case. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the digital rights group, has raised a possible threat for the users of fertility and period tracking apps. The foundation states that these apps have all the data regarding your pregnancy and fertility health. These apps can cause possible issues after the post-Roe overturn the verdict. They suggest that women who are using this app should know how their data is being stored and how it can be potentially used.
The potential threat comes after the US Supreme Court overturn the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade legal ruling – which would in turn make abortion illegal in almost 22 states in the country. There is a fear hanging over that these menstrual tracking apps can put in danger of pregnant women who might be seeking to terminate their pregnancy.
Privacy & Security
Most of these applications share these data with third parties making it much more insecure. The more dangerous thing is that we have no idea how exactly these apps use this data but these third parties sell this data to big tech giants like Meta, Google, and Amazon that are further used in unknown ways.
A senior technologist of EEF suggested that the developers of these apps must give serious thought to what data the user is storing and the amount of it, especially how this data can be misused in the future if there is a data leak or if the federal government or the state demands it to be used as surveillance.
He further stated that anyone who is on any platform that is working on tracking the users’ reproductive health care is in a jam right now considering the regulations revolving around the subject. These apps need to think about what data are they storing and for how long they are holding it.
Popular Apps amongst Women
Period tracking apps have been extremely popular among women who are either trying to get pregnant or just using them to send a reminder when they are period date is arriving. These tools help in tracking and predicting ovulation days. While other users use it for keeping an eye on their menopause which puts it in the area of “femtech” which is an evolving market that will be worth more than £40bn by 2025 worldwide.
Flo is a very famous app that women trust and use to track their fertility health. It has more than 100 million users. The app requires the women to feed their intimate information into it like how heavy their period was or if they had unprotected sex. Users who have privacy issues could check the box which doesn’t give your consent to share this data or any other detail that you have entered in the application.
Even after this, the company was found to share data of its users from 2016 to 2019. The data was about certain health details and it was sold to big tech firms to which the company later responded that was sold solely for analytical purposes. But it did make many of its users angry.
New Rules on Abortion
Now with the reversal of the Roe v. Wade ruling the users are terrified that this data can be used by legal enforcement agencies for any woman seeking an abortion. Tech outlet Protocol submitted reports that in case any of the law organization subpoenas these applications’ companies will have to hand over the user data, at least 80% of the time these companies give up and hand over the required data.
A Swedish company called the “digital contraceptive” app Natural Cycles reported that this is a huge topic of conversation and they had to give their users reassurances that they won’t be handing out any user data to any third party or any government official.
Natural Cycles, unlike a regular period tracking app, is an FDA-cleared birth control application that has been very helpful with strict standards for data privacy. They have claimed that their user data is always protected and will be continuing to do so.
Social Media Woes
Rhian Lewis runs a group called the Online Abortion Resource Squad on Reddit, a social media platform, and reported that there has been unusual on the group’s abortion page since the leak on the new verdict came out that made abortions illegal again, at the start of the week.
She said that normally r/ Abortion averages have been more than 500,000 views on average each month from the earlier 20,000 to 30,000 views per month. She further added that new visitors were coming to the group and that count was twice as high as before on days from Mondays to Tuesdays.
The surprising thing is that all these women were inquiring about the legal information and what resources they would need for an abortion. They were not asking about the privacy concerns but more about how they can access the concerned clinic.
Digital Privacy regarding Abortions
She further stated that when it comes to the questions related to the digital privacy regarding abortions, we had to direct them to the Digital Defense Fund which was more their specialty. She clarified that the data is threefold; who in the life of the person can find out that you had an abortion? What companies have the access to your fertility health data and what could they do with it? What are the legal implications for the person if any law enforcement agency finds out about it?
She said that they cannot make the decision for the person and they have to decide on their own as it is their bodies and they have the say if they want to continue the pregnancy or just terminate it. But, she said, that the data can be shared in several ways and it is pertinent for the people to understand that they need to have all the information before they make any decision. They should know what implications it will have on them, even the far-fetched ones that might not look consequential at first.
Thus, Period Tracking and Fertility Apps Can Put You at Risk After Roe V Wade Case.