Using Period Tracking App? Should You Be Worried
Everything like an app, website or social media supposedly free today has us, the ‘users’ as a product.
And the period tracking app is no exception.
It seems unbelievable that something seemingly so small and innocuous can be a way to target people who have had abortions. But this is what the latest Supreme Court ruling comes down to.
A popular hearing in the Supreme Court against women’s reproductive health and rights was finalized recently. Following the court’s orders, it would soon be impossible to get an abortion in many states as it has been declared illegal by the court.
This puts many women, like the victims of rape, marital rape, child abuse and domestic violence, at sea.
In light of all these events, concerns regarding the period tracking apps’ privacy and data security policy have increased.
Personal Data and the Internet
This is no secret that users of the internet, social media, apps, websites, IoT and smartphones are always at a high risk of the data breach. Given the heavy reliance on internet systems in the modern lifestyle, data and privacy is a matter of high-risk and security.
The user data is traded online for tons of bucks, and the users unaware of the value of their smallest actions online remain at a loss whether they choose to switch off their data sharing.
Most apps and software today ask for some sort of data sharing from their users as part of their terms of the agreement. Most of us click through the ‘Accept” button to get past the hindrance between us and the app interface; however, that is the point where we actually decide to put forth ourselves as a product in the hands of the app developers, marketers, data analysts and become vulnerable for hackers and cybercriminals.
Rising Use of Technology in Health Care
Wearable technologies like smartwatches, hospital robots and telehealth are some of the latest technology breakthroughs that have helped millions of patients and medical professionals in recent years. However, on the downside, it calls for more stringent data and privacy checks that are not yet as evolved as the technology.
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Period Tracking Apps
Period tracking apps are used by about one-third of women in the USA. These apps are useful for tracking the monthly cycles, ovulation, fertility windows, predicting mood swings and PMS. People trying to get pregnant often find such apps useful, while many apps are only designed for general health and fitness purposes.
There are many popular periods tracking apps widely used in the USA today. Two of the most used apps, Flo and Clue, have over 55 million users combined.
The period trackers must collect personal/confidential information from the user and store it to predict future changes.
This is the biggest reason why these apps have become under the radar after the recent events because theoretically, this digitally stored data can be used to build a case against someone who may want to go for an abortion. And this is just one implication. Other vulnerabilities may be in the cue as well.
Apple devices have built-in health apps that are encrypted and are said to be more secure because the user has the option to switch off the storage of their health data in iCloud. Some data privacy advocates support storing data locally rather than in cloud-based servers for enhanced security.
What to Do
Using apps like period trackers that may share data with other platforms is a personal choice, and many women may not feel disconcerted knowing that their personal and intimate information may be open to others; however, it is definitely a concern in a broader view because people’s protection should be the first and foremost duty of every company. While businesses are building new and advanced technologies, they must ensure the security and privacy of every individual before rolling out innovative ideas.
As a woman, I feel the best way to protect our personal information is to stop using technology for such intimate details. Reproductive health should be a woman’s choice. She should be able to choose whether she wants to see pregnancy or fertility-related ads on her social platforms. If a woman is trying to get pregnant and failing, watching such ads or pieces of content every time she opens social media or the internet may only add to her frustration. Because her data is being compromised, she may be subjected to anxiety and mental stress.
Old-School Ways May Not Be As Obsolete
The old-school way of writing down your days in a diary to keep track of your cycles would be much better and more secure. It is the easiest way to remember your dates and calculate your fertile days and ovulation, and with a little math, you can even analyze your cycles if required.
It is proven that as much as technology is useful, it is also a cause of distraction and the enemy of our focus and productivity. Many productivity models are based on switching to the old-school methods to improve one’s focus and productivity.
Similarly, many advanced crypto technology advocates also urge users to store their soft wallet’s key written on a piece of paper and save it somewhere for security reasons.
Hence, using paper and a pen to keep your important information is a natural way to keep that information secure and private.
The concerns about the period tracking apps are rising, which are not limited to the tracking apps alone. Many apps that keep the data of the vaccinations are also under the radar of the users now. The data and privacy breach fears of the users are valid. Apps and technologies like Google maps and GPS-based apps can also be used against users if their data is compromised.
The fact that our digital footprint is stored somewhere in the world and is traceable makes it a disturbing truth. Where lawmakers and app development companies need to ensure data privacy, users need to revisit their choices of using the apps and the internet for their most personal and private needs to ensure that they use technology only to facilitate their lives and not become enslaved by it.