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Your Health Data Isn’t Safe Post-Roe, Even If Some Apps Promise It Is

Your Health Data Isn’t Safe Post-Roe, Even If Some Apps Promise It Is
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(Photo: Gilles Lambert/Unsplash)Most know by now that last week, the Supreme Court finalized its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that constitutionally protected the right to abortion. The product of the decision is a jumble of states with varying levels of protection and prosecution. But among people’s concerns regarding bodily autonomy, medical legal checks and balances, a new, insidious problem has quietly risen to the surface: health apps are using people’s grief and anxieties to market their products. 

As many have pointed out, post-Roe America presents a complication that pre-Roe America did not: an unprecedented level of digital surveillance. Those seeking reproductive care in certain states now run the risk of being prosecuted by a court system that will subpoena service providers and software developers for any data that hints at a pregnancy. Ever since the Supreme Court’s Roe decision draft leaked last month, people have worried that digital period trackers (or health apps that otherwise contain a period-tracking feature) might reveal a blip in someone’s menstrual cycle, thus aiding abortion prosecution. 

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This, unfortunately, is a well-founded worry. Like we discussed in May, digital evidence has already been recruited in court cases concerning reproductive autonomy. Most health apps, including period trackers, store user data outside of the user’s device. This means…

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