As the US Supreme Court plans to overturn abortion rights, data from period-tracking apps could be used to track women who have had abortions.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of Americans demonstrated across the country. The anger grows as the United States could decide to go back 50 years by repealing the right to abortion, guaranteed by the Roe v. Wade from 1973.
Several activists have sounded the alarm. On social media, some “pro-abortionists” have called on women who have a data app related to their period to delete it and erase all their personal information.
If you are using an online period tracker or tracking your cycles through your phone, get off it and delete your data.
— Elizabeth C. McLaughlin (she/her) (@ECMcLaughlin) May 3, 2022
Indeed, the data collected is not protected by the HIPPA law (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) which guarantees the right to privacy. Thus, like commerce sites, these rules applications have the right to resell the personal information of their users.
Millions of women around the world use menstrual cycle tracking apps like Clue, Flo, Menstrual Period Tracker and Clover.
The police can consult them
What worries activists all the more is that the police have the power to consult this information, and that, in the event that the Supreme Court of the United States reconsiders the right to abortion, the States which prohibit the use of abortion could track down women who have abortions and bring them to justice.
The police can therefore buy a person’s data and consult it, “even without having a warrant”, explains India McKinney, director of federal affairs and member of the organization Electronic Frontier Foundation, which fights for the protection of privacy. on the Internet.
The Vice media was also able to obtain private information from the SafeGraph application, which buys and resells location data, for just over a hundred euros. A process that worries because of its ease.
The Supreme Court’s decision is expected this summer. If it cancels the 1973 ruling on the right to abortion, a dozen states should automatically ban the practice. Texas has already adopted a law last September which rewards all those who denounce a woman who has had recourse to an abortion, after the period of six weeks of pregnancy, authorized by the State of Texas.