In a letter posted on her official website, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has revealed that House Democrats have been working on legislation to protect personal data collected by reproductive health trackers. It’s one of the three avenues the lawmakers are exploring following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. “Many fear that this information could be used against women by a sinister prosecutor in a state that criminalizes abortion,” she explained, though she didn’t expound on how the lawmakers plan to protect people’s personal data.
Users have been swapping their period trackers for others they believe can offer them more privacy ever since the Supreme Court decision dropped. It’s not unusual for companies to sell user information or to cooperate with law enforcement, and people are concerned about the possibility of investigators using that data to identify them if they ever seek an abortion. As TechCrunch reported, a number of reproductive health apps enjoyed a surge of new signups over the weekend.
One of those apps is Flo, which announced that it plans to launch an anonymous mode shortly after the Supreme Court decision came out. The mode is supposed to remove one’s personal information from their account so that they can’t be identified, but Flo has yet to reveal when it will become available. It’s worth noting that Flo’s average daily installs has been on the decline, based on Apptopia numbers cited by TechCrunch, likely because it has a history of sharing private data with third parties.
Back in 2019, The Wall Street Journal listed Flo as one of the apps that had been giving Facebook access to people’s sensitive data. Two years later, Flo settled with the FTC over allegations that it was sharing information with the social network, Google and other third-party companies. As part of that settlement, Flo now has to explicitly ask for user consent before it can give external services access to their personal health information.
Despite the House Speaker’s announcement that House Democrats are working “to protect the health and freedom of American women,” there’s no guarantee that the legislation they’re cooking up would be signed into law. It’s always smart to take a closer look at how apps are protecting user data by reading their “nutritional label” on iOS or their “safety section” in the Play Store on Android. But for those who want to be truly safe, perhaps the best solution is to not use a period tracking app at all.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.