“Remove your period tracking apps today,” tweeted American author Jessica Khoury on June 25. The post has over 90,000 retweets and over 300,000 likes. Less than five minutes before, Khoury job just one word, “crying”.
Because the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, many women across the United States are now falling from the precipice into a vast and terrifying unknown. That’s because it’s now the prerogative of every state to ban abortions, make them illegal, and prosecute those desperate enough to need to break those laws. To make matters worse, 13 US states have trigger laws in place that will quickly ban abortions within 30 days.
SBS reported that because abortions will be banned in some states, law enforcement may start acquiring data from period-tracking apps. They could use this data to accuse someone of having or requesting an abortion. This is because these apps can record when your period started and ended, when you got pregnant, when your pregnancy ended, and other extremely sensitive information.
Additionally, law enforcement agencies may be able to obtain this data. May 18, VICE reported being able to purchase details of cell phones that had downloaded a period tracker app. They were able to do this in a marketplace called Narrative.
It’s worth noting that law enforcement agencies might not even need to go to marketplaces like Narrative, they might be able to skip that step. As University of Sydney law professor Kimberlee Weatherall said, SBS“If this data exists, the police and prosecutors have the means to try to obtain this data by requesting it or subpoenaing it to the various organizations that hold this data.”
Related: Explanation of Roe v. Wade: What the U.S. Supreme Court Overturned Roe v. Wade stands for abortion rights
Related: Roe V. Wade: where Australians should protest and donate
So should Australians delete their period tracking apps?
Fortunately, Australia’s abortion laws are far less draconian than those of some US states. This means you are much less likely to have your period tracking data used against you in court. However, you should really consider whether it is worth trusting such an app with such sensitive personal information. VICE isn’t the only publication to report period-tracking apps doing game-changing things over the years. Voice reported on this issue in 2016, The Wall Street Journal in 2019, and the story continues.
Many period-tracking apps have said they want to change their practices now that Roe V. Wade has been overthrown. Natural cycles’ Co-Founder Elina Berglund said, “I can confirm that Natural Cycles is creating a completely anonymous experience for users.” But why is this happening now instead of months ago? Why let a telegraphed tragedy determine the course of your business instead of dealing with your users first?
Also, does anyone really want to become a guinea pig for one of these companies? Have they really earned your trust? If you want to try and follow your vintage analog style, here’s an idea from the artist Tough Geek Merchandise and a resource of mom knows everything.
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