Jun 27, 2022

Do Period-Tracking Apps and Other Software Pose a Threat to Privacy and Freedom?

From Berkeley News

Supreme Court abortion ruling will radiate deep into American lives, scholars say

By Kara Manke, and Ivan Natividad, and Edward Lempinen

The landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court will almost immediately limit access to abortions in some states, but in the days and weeks to come, the shock waves will reach deeply into American life, UC Berkeley scholars say...

Given the unknowns of how abortion bans will be enforced, do period-tracking apps and other software pose a threat to women’s privacy and freedom?

“In our 2019 research, we found that period-tracking apps vary in who they share users’ data with. Today, more companies are aware that users generally don’t want their data shared without permission.

However, many companies’ privacy policies contain a clause saying they may share personal data when asked by law enforcement or faced with a subpoena, which could present new risks in states where the legality of reproductive health services has changed.

Users may investigate if they can request to delete their personal data, which often requires sending an email as outlined in a company’s privacy policy.

But it’s more than period-tracking app data. Things like location data, browsing history or text messages can be used to track or infer someone’s reproductive health activities. Organizations like the Digital Defense Fund or Electronic Frontier Foundation have created user guides about protecting one’s digital privacy and security with regards to reproductive health.”

— Richmond Wong

Read the full article...

Richmond Wong, Ph.D. ’20, is an I School alum and postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity.

Last updated:

June 28, 2022