Data from period tracker apps could be used as evidence in US criminal abortion cases

Delete your period tracker apps now!
11 May 2022

Women in the USA are being advised to delete their period tracker apps, since leaked documents indicate the US Supreme Court may overturn the landmark 1973 Roe versus Wade decision that guaranteed a person’s constitutional right to have an abortion. 

If successful, overturning Roe v Wade will return power to individual states, and abortion would be protected in less than half of the United States. 

In some conservative states such as Texas and Missouri, this could mean that people who have abortions could face criminal charges, even if they terminate for medical reasons or if the pregnancy is a result of rape. 

The fear around period tracker apps stems from a tweet by attorney and activist Elizabeth McLaughlin, advising anyone using such an app to get off it and delete their data. 

A recent investigation by Consumer Reports found shortcomings in the way five popular period-tracking apps handle the sensitive user data, including sending it to third parties for targeted advertising.

And last year, the Federal Trade Commission settled with the period-tracking app Flo after the app promised to keep user data private, but then shared it with marketing firms including Facebook and Google.

Data from these apps can reveal when periods, ovulation and pregnancy stops and starts, so could become evidence in states where abortion is criminalised.

- CyberBeat

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