Image showing a user accessing Flo period tracker
Source: The Verge

Period apps deleted over privacy concerns for users seeking abortions in post-Roe World
Many people are expressing concerns over whether information these apps can be used against women

Protestors condemning the overturning of Roe v. Wade
Period apps deleted over privacy concerns for women seeking abortion following Roe v. Wade overturn.
Source: USA Today

Since the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling, concerns have come about regarding privacy of technology. For instance, many worry about period tracking apps, and if their data can be collected and possibly used to incriminate them following the new ruling. This ruling has put an end to constitutional protection for access to services of abortions in the country.

Essentially, it means that access to abortions would vary from state to state, with about 26 of them either sure or somewhat likely to ban the procedure. Currently, people all around are concerned regarding the broader reverberations of the ruling, along with online monitoring.

Concerns around period tracking apps:

These apps which are mainly used to track users’ menstrual cycle, can be used for various issues surrounding fertility, pregnancy and general health determinants. Presently, users have expressed concerns surrounding the question if the stored information can be used against them in a situation determining if they had an abortion.

People using these period apps reported recently how they were deleting the applications as they were worried about security of their data following the ruling from June 24. Moreover, law professor Kimberlee Weatherall from University of Sydney stated how these apps have a history of giving in the sensitive information.

“Period or menstrual cycle tracking apps can have some evidence of when you have a period, so if you miss a period, or miss a couple of periods and then your periods start again, it could be some sort of evidence that you had been pregnant and are no longer pregnant,” she told SBS News.

The information on devices is clearly vulnerable for they can be used to assist prosecution. This could include messages, search history, GPS data possibly showing visits to abortion clinics, along with financial transactions. Professor Weatherall noted how there could be enough data to prove a case in event of trying to prosecute someone for having an abortion.

Moreover, she stated how privacy laws differ in the numerous states and nations, but police getting hold of information for legal use is mostly an exception to privacy laws. She added how privacy in the US is not as strong as other places like Europe where General Data Protection Regulations recognises privacy as a crucial fundamental right.

Protection of users:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have provided people with the advise to adequately think and improve security, keeping their activities concealed. These include use of browsers that have a hardened security setting, switching of history, location and cookies, etc. Additionally, using a new, unrecognisable email ID to book appointments.
Companies such as Flo and Clue with period tracking apps assured of their commitment to the protection users’ data, and standing with the people at the difficult time.