Life Style

Roe v Wade: Is the Menstruation Tracking App Safe to Use in the United States?

Some time tracking apps share data with third parties. As abortion protection can be rolled back in the United States, we are reassessing whether the data collected by these apps can be used as evidence against them.


May 9, 2022

Some time tracking apps sell data to third parties

Shutterstock / fizkes

Recent leaks Draft opinion The US Supreme Court’s ruling suggests that the Roe v. Wade case could be overturned and the national right to abortion could be eliminated. The prospect is Physiology tracking app privacy.. Some apps share data with third parties for advertising and research purposes, so this data may seek abortion in states that outlaw procedures if the Roe v. Wade case is overturned. There are concerns that it may be used as evidence for those who obtain it.

What kind of data is at stake?

Physiological tracking apps have different ranges. Some people record simple details such as the beginning and end of menstruation. The app predicts when menstruation will come and when it will ovulate. Others also act as social sites, with calendars, nutrition tips, and forums where users can chat about their sexual desires and share their experiences of becoming pregnant.

The data that can be sold from these apps depends on the terms of use, but can be hundreds of pages long and difficult to decrypt. Some apps promise to remove identification information such as the user’s name, address, email address before selling or sharing the data, but include details such as the IP address that can be linked to a particular device. It may not be.

“Machine learning technology is so sophisticated that it doesn’t need to be named to identify it uniquely,” said Pam Dixon, founder of the World Privacy Forum, a non-profit public research group.

If the US Supreme Court invalidates national abortion protection, it creates a challenge. Once the draft opinion is passed, the state will have the authority to develop its own legislation on the legality and illegality of abortion.

“If you live in a place where abortion is illegal, it’s a bad idea to include Facebook, Twitter, or the menstrual tracker app” I have an abortion. ” Indian McKinney At the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Also, many apps collect location data, so it doesn’t have to be very explicit. “When that little blue dot goes from that house to that office, you have a pretty good idea of ​​who it is,” says McKinney.

Can I buy or sell location data?

Like Vice News, general location data is very easy and cheap to buy. Motherboard It was discovered when I purchased a week’s worth of such data from the data broker SafeGraph. The data show where people came from and where they went after visiting Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organization of assisted reproductive technology.

A Recent law passed in Texas Most miscarriages are banned when embryonic cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound. This happens in about 6 weeks. We will provide a $ 10,000 bounty to those who successfully complain of abortion-related people after this point and motivate them to look for this data.

According to McKinney, law enforcement agencies can access this information without a warrant. “It’s legal.”

Is my health data protected by law?

Some period tracking apps claim to be “HIPAA compliant” and claim to be “HIPAA compliant” Health Insurance Interoperability and Accountability Act, A law that protects health and medical information. This rule applies to groups such as hospitals, medical centers, and insurance companies, limiting what can be shared and disclosed. However, HIPAA does not protect the data collected by apps that someone may download from Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

“I think this is a common misconception,” he says. Quinn Grundy At the University of Toronto, Canada. “Not all health-related data are treated the same under the law.”

Do I need to remove the Physiology Tracking app?

McKinney understands the urge to remove the menstrual tracker, but says it’s like not buying a car because someone doesn’t want to break into the car on the street. Instead, she suggests pondering what you post, choosing an app with a privacy guarantee that you agree with, and rejecting requests for apps that use location data. Navigation apps need to know your location, but apps that track ovulation probably don’t.

Ultimately, stronger privacy laws will help. “I don’t want to live in a world where apps rely on the correct processing of sensitive personal data,” says McKinney.

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Roe v Wade: Is the Menstruation Tracking App Safe to Use in the United States?

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