Why delete period tracking app? The judgment of Roe v. Wade triggers data panic

Some social media users are urging women to delete apps they may be using to track their periods after the US Supreme Court overturned two landmark abortion rights rulings.

The decision of the court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization means that the right to an abortion no longer has constitutional protections and state governments can enact laws banning the procedure altogether or severely restricting access to it.

Several states already have so-called trigger laws, which are now coming into force after the 1973 coup Roe v. calf and 1992s Planned Parenthood vs. Casey this will effectively ban most abortions.

The ruling has prompted renewed calls for period-tracking apps like Flo to be taken down over concerns that personal health data contained in the apps could potentially be subpoenaed by state authorities to prove pregnancy and abortion in potential criminal cases.

“Delete your period tracking apps today,” author Jessica Khoury tweeted on Friday, while many other social media users made the same point after the court’s ruling was released.

“Friends: That’s not paranoia. States can already access your data in your apps. If you travel while you have missed a period, you will be prosecuted for wanting an abortion. DELETE YOUR APPS NOW,” wrote one Twitter user Deke Molton.

news week previously reported similar concerns raised by progressive advocate and activist Elizabeth C. McLaughlin last month. At the time, the court had not issued an opinion, but a leaked draft had been released Politically on May 2nd. The final version of the Opinion was essentially the same.

“If you think your data showing when you last menstruated is of no interest to those who want to ban abortion then I have a wake up call for YOU,” McLaughlin tweeted at the time.

“Prosecutors have subpoena power, and in the event that you need an abortion, have a miscarriage, or are traveling across state lines, you need to think very seriously about what’s on your phone,” McLaughlin continued.

For example, if a state passed a law prohibiting a woman from having an abortion and she did so anyway, the information in the period tracking app could be used to prove pregnancy and subsequent pregnancy loss.

It’s not yet clear if states will pass legislation that would criminally charge women for having an abortion, but critics say laws now being considered in Louisiana would criminalize women who have abortions and that they’re because of Manslaughter could be prosecuted.

Potential prosecutions of women could rely on period-tracking technology.

Unlike doctors, the apps are not bound by patient privacy regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the information on the apps has sometimes been sold to third parties such as Facebook and Google.

Flo, the most popular period tracking app, shared user information with Facebook from 2016 to 2019 but has since stopped doing so, while the company now says it does not share data with third parties.

Women urged to delete period tracking apps
After the fall of Roe v. Wade asked women to delete period tracking apps for privacy reasons.
Getty

How Period Tracking Apps Responded to Supreme Court Ruling

Flo then issued a statement Dobbs Decision stating the app will soon launch an “anonymous mode” that will “remove your personal identity from your Flo account so no one can identify you.”

Still, the biggest concern of some activists is that government investigators could issue subpoenas for this data, imposing a legal obligation on companies that they may not be able to successfully challenge in court.

Clue, a Europe-based period tracking app, issued a statement advising that data would be safer with them.

“With the increasing criminalization of abortion in the United States, we understand that many of our American users are concerned that their tracked data could be used against them by US prosecutors. It is important to understand that European law protects our community’s sensitive health data,” said Anhalt.

However, it remains to be seen whether this would provide adequate protection from US subpoenas. Flo is headquartered in London, UK

Evan Greer, director of digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future, told NPR Friday that data stored in the cloud may be subject to a subpoena, but if it’s stored on an individual’s device, a search warrant is required.

He said a warrant is a “much higher legal obstacle” than a subpoena, so users may want to know where their data is stored.

Other data from women’s phones and devices could also be used to create a case, such as: B. Location tracking, Google searches and chat histories.

This information could be used to prove that a woman has attended or intended to attend an abortion clinic.

Abortion is, or will soon be, illegal in at least 16 states, but it could be months before the exact contours of state-level legislation are clear. The decision to delete a period tracking app is a personal decision, but it could become more urgent depending on how state governments respond to the Supreme Court decision.

Abortion protesters hold signs in Portland, Oregon
People hold up signs as they gather to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to rule Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. Women have been urged to delete period tracking apps.
Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Images

https://www.newsweek.com/why-delete-period-tracking-app-roe-v-wade-ruling-sparks-panic-data-1719167 Why delete period tracking app? The judgment of Roe v. Wade triggers data panic

Rick Schindler

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