Apps that collect and store data on their own servers are particularly dangerous, according to Fox Cahn, not only because the data can be sold and hacked, but also because law enforcement can provide companies with subpoenas for user data.in a recent reportSTOP noted that some apps allow users to store data on their phones — a safer option — but still don’t protect them from a search warrant.
But Fox Cahn said the concerns go far beyond fertility apps. “Basically, any health data application targeting pregnant or potentially pregnant women could be weaponized.”
To understand why, just look at the country’s immigration infrastructure, said Paromita Shah, executive director of Just Futures Law.The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have long-term data Activists and migrants are monitored and arrested, she said. “No consumer privacy law I’ve seen really affects the police,” Shah said. “They bought the data to circumvent their constitutional obligations.”
Even if a user decides to delete a period tracking app, their data may have already been collected. For those who want to keep using them, McGraw says “it takes a lot of effort” to make sure the data isn’t shared. None of the companies answered questions about their user data.
“Most of the time, what you can do, and what people rarely do, is pay more attention to the terms of service and the privacy policies of the apps you use,” she said. But erasing data that already exists is only possible “if your company is protected by state law and gives you the right to erasure.”
Many of these problems are foreseen by Euki, an app published by Women Helping Women International. “When someone creates an app, obviously they want to make money, and they want to pay for it. The way they recoup the cost and make money in the future is through marketing data,” said Susan Arnold, a reproductive health consultant and the organization’s U.S. representative. (Susan Yanow) said. “We got funding to make Euki because we’re a non-profit. We never thought about making up the cost. Our goal is to get it into the hands of as many people as possible, as safely as possible.”
Euki contains information about abortion, contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and miscarriage, storing all data on the user’s device rather than uploading it to a third-party server. It is password protected, allowing the user to set a second password which, when entered, pops up a second fake app, even keeping the nature of the app private. There is even an option to delete all collected data.
In the weeks after the draft decision was leaked, Yanow said Women Helping Women had seen an influx of users to the group’s website — something she hoped would lead people to the Euki app.
“We really believe that whoever has the app should decide what to do with it [a missed period or pregnancy]if that happens,” Arno said.