Mobile apps used for tracking menstrual cycles are very popular, but in the light of the current 1973 Roe v Wade legal shenanigans, the issue of privacy and data protection has reared its ugly head, once again.
Speaking to the BBC, Cooper Quintin, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), said now would be a good time for app developers to rethink their data harvesting practices, as well as the levels of transparency they have with their customers on this issue. Users were also urged to pay attention.
“We strongly suggest that the developers of period tracking apps start thinking about the amount of data they are storing about their customers, and especially the ways that data could one day be used or misused in the future to cause harm, or be a tool of surveillance,” Quintin told the BBC.
Selling sensitive data
“Anyone working with user data, especially in the reproductive health space right now, should be thinking about what they can do to minimize the amount of data they collect and hold, and the length of time they hold that data.”
Some of the apps claim they can help users predict ovulation days, and as such, have been extremely popular with both users looking to get pregnant, as well as those looking to avoid getting pregnant.
However, with all that’s been going on with the Roe v Wade ruling, some people seem to think the data, should it end up in the wrong hands, could be used to punish those seeking pregnancy termination and abortion.
These apps often ask for plenty of sensitive data from their users, such as how heavy their bleeds are, do they practice unprotected intercourse, or how high is their libido. Users are also urged to read the fine print and make sure the apps aren’t selling any personally identifiable data to third parties, such as Google, or Amazon, as some firms were found to be doing just that, claiming it was for “analytical purposes” only.