In the recent light of the potential of Roe V. Wade being overturned, some online are warning others that their period apps can be tracking more than just their period. Data collection from cell phones has always been a concern, especially as people receive targeted ads from companies designed for them based on what they search online or stores they go to. According to the Washington Post, “There is precedent for it, and privacy advocates say data collection could become a major liability for people seeking abortions in secret. Phones can record communications, search histories, body health data, and other 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
A lot of the conversation online occurred after Twitter user Elizabeth McLaughlin, warned people that if they are using an online period tracker, they should delete it and delete their data. McLaughlin continued the thread, writing that “If you think that your data showing when you last menstruated isn’t of interest to those who are about to outlaw abortion, whew do I have a wakeup call for YOU.” Since cellphones can track location and the data, some began to wonder if this could be used as evidence against them.
Closely tracking cycles will never be more important though. This may be an asinine question, but could hard copy calendar tracking be subpoenaed?
— Angelene (@MmmmPeach45) May 4, 2022
Since McLaughlin is an attorney, according to her bio, many had legal questions for her, pointing to the fact that some were concerned about possible legal repercussions in the future and what this could open up. “Wow. Never had this dawned on me. This should be a PSA. We don’t think we have any privacy anymore with any app!” one Twitter user commented. The Washington Post writes that the data “is an easy target for subpoenas or court orders, and many tech companies do not give straight answers about what information they would be willing to hand over.”
yo so i know a lot of people are worried about their period trackers selling their data
Clue period tracker is based out of germany with FAR stricter data privacy laws than Flo or the apple cycle app. plus they’re gender neutral. i’d recommend switching over to them.
— 👁👄👁 (@regretrograde) May 4, 2022
Clue, a period tracker based in Germany, even commented on Twitter to hopefully cure the worries of some users, saying that “We completely understand this anxiety, and we want to reassure you that any health data you track in Clue about pregnancy or abortion is private and safe.” Many encouraged people seeking these tracking apps to switch over to Clue. Still, some could not believe that this was a conversation that was happening online. Some claimed that this could be an overreaction, while others said that it was better to be over careful.