Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, there has been public outrage regarding abortion access nationwide. As activists continue to fight for reproductive rights, another issue unfolds underneath the surface. Many flocked to Twitter and other social platforms to warn others about the risks associated with period tracking apps. 

Period tracking apps help users know when to expect their next menstrual cycle, document bodily changes and predict ovulation and fertile windows for pregnancy. While period tracking apps can be helpful, their lack of privacy protocols raises concerns for many of its users.

Find out more about your reproductive health data and the role period tracking apps can have in distributing that information.

Are Period Tracking Apps Safe To Use?

It depends on the company that the period tracking app is under. It is important to note that most of these apps do not follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA is a federal law that protects patient privacy against the disclosure of health information and protects medical data. 

Many well-known apps are known to collect and store data from their users. If, for any reason, the app experiences a data breach or cyber attack, that makes a user vulnerable to their information being stolen or exposed. Additionally, the collected data could be placed in the hands of other social platforms, police officers or anyone else. When downloading period-tracking apps, paying close attention to the disclosure message that pops up is essential. These messages show how these platforms plan to use the data they collect.

Can Period Tracking Apps Track My Location?

While period tracking apps have access to intimate reproductive health details, there is also a chance they have access to a person’s location. 

Location tracking is not necessary for a period tracking app, but it may be outlined in their policy. Going through the app’s settings to turn it off is the safest option to prevent unwanted risks. For states with anti-abortion laws, a user’s location data can be used as evidence in court. 

Law enforcement agencies can write official government documents requiring these companies to provide location information. With a subpoena, a period tracking company would be required to release that information. According to NordVPN, an IP address can still be found even if a location tracker is not found. To give users more control over their privacy, the software company advises using a virtual private network (VPN) to make it harder for apps to locate people.

Should You Delete The App?

As reproductive rights are under attack, it is crucial now more than ever for users to protect their personal information. Although companies may use the data for advertising or marketing purposes, there is a risk of it being used against someone. Before providing those details, doing a deep dive into the company’s data-storing practices are protective measures that can be taken.