There are concerns that authorities in US states that ban abortion under the Roe v Wade ruling could use data from period-tracking apps to show that they are planning or having completed an abortion
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Women in America are being urged to take down their period-tracking apps after fears authorities could use them to find out if someone is planning or having had an abortion.
It comes as the US Supreme Court reversed the landmark Roe v Wade ruling that has given women across the country the legal right to terminate their pregnancy for nearly half a century.
It’s now up to each state to decide whether women can have legal abortions, and 26 states are set to ban them either definitely or very likely.
If abortion is criminalized, period tracking apps might have no choice but to share their customers’ most personal details, writes news.com.au
This could mean that authorities have access to information about whether a woman is pregnant, is considering having an abortion or has had an abortion which, if abortion is criminalized, could be used to prove that a person has acted unlawfully.
In a Twitter post that has gone viral, US author Jessica Khoury wrote. “Delete your period tracking apps today.”
More than 3,000 people have commented below, many expressing shock that the tracker could potentially endanger them.
There are also concerns that a woman’s search history and location data could be used to find out if she is considering or has had an abortion.
It is not yet known how far authorities in states that want to criminalize abortion will go to enforce the law.
A period tracking app tells users what day their period starts and ends so it can predict when their next period is due, when they will be most fertile, and if their period is late or if they will get their period at all missed.
Since the tweet, some period tracker apps have made statements that they would never share their data. Including the Berlin app Clue with 12 million users.
The company said: “Being based in Berlin as a European country, Clue is required by European law (General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR) to take extra care to protect our users’ reproductive health data. We will not disclose them. We will stand up for our users.”
Meanwhile, period tracker Stardust said: “In light of the recent news about Roe v. Wade, we want to make our commitment clear to you. We are a women owned app built on a belief in freedom of choice and freedom of privacy.
“We don’t sell data. We have never sold data. We will never sell data.
“We have encrypted your information to ensure no government or company ever accesses data that belongs to you and you alone. It will stay that way forever.”
Another period tracker, Flo, which is based in the US and has 43 million users, was previously criticized for sharing data on its users’ periods and pregnancy plans with Facebook.
Following the Roe v Wade ruling, it announced on Twitter that it would unveil an anonymous mode for users
“You DESERVE the right to protect your data. We will soon be introducing an ‘Anonymous Mode’ that will remove your personal identity from your Flo account so no one can identify you.”
Some Twitter users said deleting a period tracker app doesn’t get rid of the data and urged people to contact the app’s support team and ask them to delete it.
Evan Greer of digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future has warned that the government’s ability to track women goes beyond period apps.
“Any app that collects sensitive information about your health or body should be subject to additional scrutiny,” Greer said.
“If a woman sits in the waiting room of an abortion clinic and plays a game on her phone, this app may be able to read location data and share it with the government, according to the digital expert.”
A number of people on social media have suggested using a paper calendar to track their periods instead of using apps.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/us-news/women-urged-delete-period-tracking-27332723 US women are being urged to take down period tracking apps amid fears data could detect abortions