Is your period and pregnancy app keeping your information private?

Some are concerned their private data could be used as incriminating evidence
Some are concerned their private data could be used as incriminating evidence(CNN News)
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 12:57 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Recently Mozilla investigated and learned that 18 out of 25 reproductive health apps and wearable devices received a “Privacy Not Included” warning label.

These results raise concerns in the post-Roe landscape that the data could be used by law enforcement to determine whether users are pregnant, seeking abortion information or services, or crossing state lines to obtain an abortion.

Mozilla researched ten pregnancy tracking apps, ten period apps, and five health and fitness wearable devices that have the ability to track fertility, including Flo, Glow, Ovia, Period Calendar Period Tracker, and My Calendar Period Tracker.

Millions of users trust these apps to track their menstrual cycles and ovulation windows. They also use these apps to plan or prevent pregnancies. These apps collect massive amounts of data and are often used to target pregnant women and expecting families with targeted adds. That data rarely stays in one place — it jumps from third-party businesses, research institutions, and other entities.

A majority of these applications didn’t have specific guidelines regarding what could be shared with authorities. Surprisingly, Sprout Pregnancy, which gives users the ability to build personal pregnancy timeline calendars and collects data including weight, doctor’s appointments, birth plan and pregnancy journals, does not have a privacy policy at all. Eight of the apps failed to meet Mozilla’s Minimum Security Standards.

“Overnight, apps and devices that millions of people trust have the potential to be used to prosecute people seeking abortions,” Ashley Boyd, Mozilla’s Vice President of Advocacy stated. “Our research confirms that users should think twice before using most reproductive health apps; their privacy policies are riddled with loopholes and they fail to properly secure intimate data.”

“Companies collecting personal and sensitive health information need to be extra diligent when it comes to the privacy and security of the personal information they collect, especially now in our post-Roe vs Wade world in the U.S.” Jen Caltrider, Mozilla’s *Privacy Not Included Lead expressed. “Unfortunately, too many are not. This is frightening.”

Euki is the only app that earned a spot in Mozilla’s “Best Of” category. Of the five wearable devices that Mozilla reviewed, (Apple Watch, Fitbit, Whoop Strap, Garmin, and Oura Ring) all fared better, with none of them earning the privacy warning label.

Misha Rykov, *Privacy Not Included Researcher explained that the “best practices for privacy by design and by default have existed for a while, but most of the leading reproductive health apps chose to ignore them. This is scary when even the baseline security is shaky in apps used by millions of women now, post-Roe vs Wade.”

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