Should you delete your period tracking and location tracking apps?
With the landmark Supreme Court ruling overturning nationwide abortion rights, some experts are now warning women to delete their period-tracking apps or any apps that store certain health information.
“Truly sensitive health data can come to light in a variety of ways,” says Alexandra Givens, CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology.
Data experts say there are concerns that this information could be shared or subpoenaed and used against someone to prove they had an abortion.
An app called “Flo” has launched an anonymous mode that removes personal identities from accounts. The app has already reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over data sharing charges. Experts warn that even if you delete your app, it doesn’t mean your data is gone.
“You really want to check the terms of this app that you want to understand in every way possible to actually delete the information that is historically stored,” says Givens.
It’s not just menstrual cycle apps, but it could be other apps that use your location.
“We’ve actually seen a number of stories about data brokers who were collecting location information from people’s phones and were able to reveal who had been…at a Planned Parenthood clinic, about of where they were before going to the clinic, and where they went after it was anonymized, but it can actually be very telling of your own individual identity.
Givens says it’s best to take 10 minutes to study your phone’s settings and how it shares your location information. If you see an account you don’t recognize, delete it.
You should also ensure that your application does not store information in the cloud. As long as it’s only on your local device, you have the power to delete it.