Data security and privacy are growing concerns for consumers. And now, with Roe v. Wade overturned and abortions expected to become illegal in many U.S. states, some serious app data tracking issues have surfaced. Let’s look at what Roe v. Wade being overturned means for data privacy, what information apps collect about you, and how to keep your data safe when using apps.
The Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the protection of abortion as a constitutional right that has been in place for five decades. As a result of the ruling, as many as 22 states are expected to restrict or criminalize abortion.
The revoking of federal abortion rights has caused people to worry about data privacy on period-tracking apps, which at least 55 million women in the U.S. use. Many American women have already chosen to delete period tracking apps from their phones amid fears of their sensitive data being used to prosecute them. And these fears are not baseless.
As you would expect, tech companies must comply with legal regulations. If authorities were to conduct an investigation into someone seeking or facilitating abortion in one of the states where termination is outlawed, period-tracking companies would need to hand over the data collected on the individual to the court.
According to a tech outlet Protocol, if a company is ordered by the court to supply individual user data, it can push back – but will have to hand it over about 80% of the time.
The concern over the privacy of period-tracking data feeds into the wider debate about the personal information smartphones and apps collect — and share with other parties. Without a doubt, the Supreme Court ruling is another call for users to become more mindful of their digital presence and increase their digital hygiene.
Numerous controversies around sensitive user data collected by apps and occasions when it ended up in the wrong hands have arisen.
In 2019, a popular period-tracking app, Flo, came under fire for sharing user data with Facebook from 2016 to 2019 without their consent. Information shared included when a user was last on their period and if they intended to get pregnant.
Uber has a patchy data security record with a fair share of data breaches over the years. The biggest breach happened in 2017, when hackers accessed the driver’s license numbers of 600,000 drivers in the U.S., along with information about 57 million Uber riders and drivers globally (like their names, email addresses, and phone numbers).
However, research shows only 9% of Americans read privacy policies all the time, with 13% saying they read them often. So it isn’t surprising that many of us don’t know what information we’re allowing these apps to track!
Here’s what data apps can collect:
The app can then use this information in many ways: to gain consumer insights, refine marketing strategies, show you targeting advertising and tailored pricing — or sell it to third parties.
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