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Science And Nature

Privacy concerns over period-tracking apps are valid, Mozilla report finds

In a report released the other day, Mozilla, makers of the privacy-focused browser Firefox, discovered that 18 out of 25 reproductive health apps and wearable devices that it investigated had insecure, insufficient, or outright exploitative privacy and security practices. In a post-Roe America, the type of data these apps and wearables collect could beand contains beenutilized by authorities to find out if users are or have already been pregnant, sought information regarding abortion services, as well as obtained an abortion.

In 2017, Mozilla created its *Privacy Not Included buying guide to greatly help people look for safe products which are connected to the web. Many devices and services track huge amounts of identifying and intensely private information, and dont take the steps needed to safeguard it.

The minimum security standards Mozilla wants are fair and, for the firms and developers creating the products, relatively simple to possess in place. The business says that user data ought to be encrypted when transmitted on the internet and stored in a database; security updates ought to be automatic, enabled automagically, and supported for an acceptable period after sale; people ought to be required to work with a strong password; the maker will need a vulnerability management system set up so security researchers can tell them of any security issues they find; and there must be a publicly available online privacy policy.

Along with the minimum security standards, Mozilla also investigates how each product uses the info it collects on its users (for instance, selling it to data brokers is really a bad thing), how easy it really is for users to regulate their data, and when the company includes a good history of protecting user privacy.

[Related: The dangers of digital health monitoring in a post-Roe world]

If an app or product falls short on several of the categories (or Mozilla cant confirm it meets the minimum security standards) it gets flagged with a *Privacy Not Included warning label. This is exactly what 18 of the 25 reproductive health tracking tools received.

In its investigation, Mozilla viewed ten of the very most popular period tracking apps, ten of the very most popular pregnancy tracking apps, and five wearable devices that track fertility.

Overall, the apps fared terribly. Mozilla discovered that these apps typically collected a buffet of data that has been used to focus on users with ads, and was sold to third-parties. Usually the apps operated a data first, then consent model where data collection started before users even opted in. There have been also rarely clear guidelines about how exactly, when, and what data could possibly be distributed to law enforcementa particularly troubling issue given the type of the apps and devices involved. The only real app to obtain a Best Of was Euki developed by Women Help Women. Natural Cycles CONTRACEPTIVE also did okay, but nonetheless had some troubling data practices.

Listed below are all of the apps that got slapped with the *Privacy Not Included warning label: Clue Period & Cycle Tracker, Preglife Pregnancy App, Ovia Pregnancy, Babycenter, Pregnancy+, Period Tracker by GP International LLC, WebMD Pregnancy, My Calendar Period Tracker, What things to Expect Pregnancy Tracker & Baby App, Flo Ovulation & Period Tracker, Pregnancy & DEADLINE Tracker, The Bump Pregnancy Tracker & Baby App, Ovia Fertility, Glow Nurture & Glow Baby, Maya Period, Fertility, Ovulation, & Pregnancy, Period Calendar Period Tracker, Glow & Eve by Glow, and Sprout Pregnancy.

The wearables did far better. None of the Garmin, Apple Watch, Oura Ring, Fitbit, or Whoop devices Mozilla investigated handled data as poorly because the apps. You may still find a lot of legitimate concerns with almost any large scale data collection, however the odds are higher your data will remain safe.

However, if you are using an app that got Mozillas *Privacy Not Included warning label, we suggest you click on through to the relevant link above and read a bit more. Mozilla is great at installation of just what was concerning concerning the apps. For instance, it flags that WebMD Pregnancy collects user data that it transfers (and perhaps sells) to third-parties. In addition, it includes a very wishy-washy statement about complying with police requests. If some of that concerns you, you then shouldnt use WebMD Pregnancy.

In the report, Ashley Boyd, Mozillas vice president of advocacy, says, Overnight, apps and devices that thousands of people trust have the potential to be utilized to prosecute people seeking abortions. Our research confirms that users should think before using most reproductive health apps; their privacy policies are riddled with loopholes plus they neglect to properly secure intimate data. We agree.

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