Do rule-tracking apps protect data? Researchers issue new privacy warning

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Researchers who have reviewed popular period tracking apps have published a new reportrevealing that many may not be protecting user data, a growing concern following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Millions of people use reproductive health apps like Flo and Clue to track fertility, pregnancy, and menstrual cycles.

However, the staff of Mozilla Foundationa non-profit organization that advocates privacy on the internet, warned that personal reproductive information recorded on these platforms – such as weight, birth plan, pregnancy logs and doctor’s appointments – could not be as private as users think.

“They collect a lot of data and use very similar privacy policies to the apps you use for recipes or image sharing or things like that,” said Jen Caltrider, Mozilla’s manager in their Privacy Not division. Include.

SEE ALSO: House passes bill to codify right to contraception after Supreme Court overturns Roe v. wade

The organization reviewed 25 popular reproductive health apps and labeled 18 of them with a “privacy not included” warning, which means data provided by users may not be secure. Eight of those apps failed to meet the company’s “minimum security standards.”

After the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade, many women living in states that criminalize abortion have shared concerns that these apps could now contain incriminating information about their travels, search histories and menstrual cycles.

“What we found was that most companies had pretty vague statements, [making it] hard to say whether companies would voluntarily release data to law enforcement if they came to ask,” Caltrider said.

Any consumer wishing to use a period tracker should do their research by reading the fine print before signing the privacy terms and entering potentially sensitive information online, said Leah Fowler, assistant research professor at the University of Houston Law Center.

“Each individual consumer should do a cost-benefit analysis of how useful they find the product and the types of risks they may be exposed to depending on where they live,” Fowler said. “There are many products available that are ultimately very useful and popular tools without exposing them to as much risk. For example, one can store data locally on your phone or not participate in data sharing with third parties.”

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