Opinion: The dangers of cycle tracking apps in a post-Roe . world

As we face a possible future in which Roe and Wade will be annulled by the Supreme Court, privacy expert and regular consumer are concerned that this and other digital data collected by cycle-tracking apps could be used to prosecute women seeking or having abortions.
Industry “FemTech” – a term coined by Ida Tin, founder of another cycle tracking app called Clue – is predicted to grow 60 billion dollars globally by 2027, according to a market research and strategy consulting firm.

And no wonder! Our friends tell us that digital health apps, including cycle tracking apps, increase their knowledge, help them manage PMS symptoms and help track their fertility. fertility. Our patients often pull out their period tracking app to let us know they can’t get pregnant or to remind themselves of their last menstrual period. These apps are simply empowering.

But there is also a hidden dark side. In fact, many of these applications are collecting and store your data in the cloud or on a server – instead of on your phone – is why you care.
Most of the best-known cycle tracking apps collect data on intimate details, from a user’s menstrual cycle, sex life to drug use. In 2020, Privacy International (PI), a nonprofit advocacy group, asked five cycle tracking apps for data that has been collected about a PI employee who volunteered to use the app for the project.
An application was found to store answers to the most important questions on the company’s servers, such as “What kind of relationship do you have now?” Another person is credited with collecting approximate location data whenever the user interacts with the app. Other independent review had similar findings.
This stored information is rarely under your control. Most digital health apps, including cycle tracking apps, exempt from federal health information privacy laws that govern health care providers. Thus, cycle tracking apps essentially have free control over who they share your health data with — as long as they notify you of their privacy policy.
Flo says it clearly in it Privacy Policy that they do not sell any personal data and do not collect this data without the user’s knowledge. According to the application, third parties help to process personal data unrelated to the user’s health, mainly for marketing and functional purposes, and according to their privacy policy, they ask the user to agree before sharing some of this data. Some third parties provide basic services, such as web hosting and payment processing, while others are responsible for app analytics and ad targeting.
Comments: With & # 39;  the nature of the fetus, & # 39;  Negligence can lead to jail time
But just last year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) achieved settled with Flo after it was discovered that the company disclosed consumer fertility data to third parties such as Facebook and Google. In doing so, the FTC alleges, Flo was broken promise that user health data will be kept private. Follow FTC complaint filed, Flo does not limit how these third parties can use the data they receive. Flo speak in a statement that the settlement “is not an admission of any wrongdoing.”

The FTC case has shown us that while the role of third parties may seem rather benign, the lack of federal regulation restricting the health and personal data that can be made available to them is a problem. subject.

Similarly, if there are no more problems, is the possibility that data from cycle tracking apps can be subpoenaed and used as evidence to prove criminals abort. Whether non-healthy data can be used to suggest that a woman has had an abortion, remains unclear. But the possibility that menstrual cycle-related data from these apps can be used in court as evidence that a woman has had an abortion is increasingly of interest to both lawyers and users. It should be noted that if you use other apps, such as a calendar, to track your period, such data may also be subpoenaed.

Imagine that for many years you have had regular periods, every 28 days. Then, a month later, you missed your period. Then, because you continue to miss your period or simply forget to enter your period data, you won’t enter any information for the following months – only to continue tracking your period a few months later there. This information can be subpoenaed. So, who can say that you didn’t have an abortion or a miscarriage?

Eric Perakslis, director of science and digital at the Duke Institute of Clinical Research, points out that “the loss of privacy in and of itself isn’t harmful… It’s when someone does something bad to you… your data” then things go wrong. “When you don’t have comprehensive privacy laws in place,” says Perakslis, “you need to at least be protected from these bad things.”

Opinion: Get it from an adopter - choice matters
This protection, unfortunately, does not exist. And abundant evidence from healthcare – including the field Reproductive Health – hints just how easy access to sensitive data because of “bad things”.

As Halle Tecco, an investor and women’s health advocate, points out, existing protections are not enough. “Particularly because women may have lower levels of trust in the system due to lifelong exposure to gender stereotypes and medical pressures – it is important that we protect and respect the right private,” Tecco said.

On a policy level, then, the federal government can and should strengthen digital health protections. The Health Insurance Provisions and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH) aim to provide comprehensive protection for personal health data. However, these protections are outdated and do not take into account the rapidly evolving healthcare system, where digital health applications play an increasingly integral role. Federal protections must expand to include more medical institutions, include cycle-tracking apps, and clearly prioritize and enforce protecting individuals’ privacy rather than allowing companies to rely solely on a user consent model.

Meanwhile, we – the end users – have a say.

Both Perakslis and Tecco recommend that users of the cycle tracking app ask the companies to do better. In the words of Perakslis: “Tell them you can do this better. Lock your apps. Clarify your privacy policy. And put in place your user protection policy, not just your company.”

Of course, not all cycle tracking apps are bad. Piraye Yurttas Beim, founder and CEO of Celmatix, a women’s health biotech company, reminds us that “when responsibly developed by good companies, both two join with regulators and engage in good privacy protection, that’s a positive thing I hate women who use apps developed by high quality companies to give them up .”

So: know what you are using. Before you sign up for an app, read the privacy policies carefully, use non-profit resources like Electronic Border Organization to help inform yourself. Consider creating an anonymous email when you sign up for the app. If possible, choose an app that stores all your data on your phone, this provides a much higher level of security.

And if you have any doubts about the privacy of your data on the apps you’re using, you might want to consider going back to what women did 15 years ago: track periods with paper and pencil.

Source link


News5s: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button