Period-tracking apps react to Roe v. Wade ruling


After the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, users are concerned that period monitoring apps may be used against them in the future.

(Image credit: Flo)

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the long-standing Roe v. Wade rule that secured the legal right to an abortion, the period tracking apps Flo and Clue are attempting to convince their combined 55 million users that personal data entered into both apps is safe.

As many as 16 additional states are anticipated to enact laws banning all forms of abortion by the end of 2022, and in those jurisdictions, women’s private cell phone data will be utilized to punish anyone who’s had an abortion or even a miscarriage.


An incognito mode for Flo’s users was teased on Twitter shortly after the verdict was made final. According to the Twitter post, “You DESERVE the right to secure your data,” it reads. “Anonymous Mode” will soon be introduced, which will eliminate your personal information from your Flo account, making it impossible for anyone to identify you.

The release date for this item was not stated, but given that the draft opinion on the overturning of Roe v. Wade was leaked at the beginning of May, it appears likely that this feature has been in the works for at least a month or so.

Flo, on the other hand, has a reputation of violating user privacy. Data about menstrual cycles was reported to be shared with Facebook and Google by The Wall Street Journal(opens in new tab) back in 2019. The FTC and the corporation reached an agreement in 2021(opens in new tab), and as part of that agreement, the company said it had successfully completed a privacy audit(opens in new tab) last month.


When it comes to Clue’s privacy policies, the firm has issued a statement(opens in new tab) as an attempt to convince its customers that their data is “secure and protected.”

Many of us at Clue have experienced the dread of losing our reproductive freedom firsthand,” the statement reads. That said, “We’ll do everything in our power to make every single Clue user’s experience as positive and safe as possible while we navigate this new reality.”

However, if you reside in a state where anti-choice legislators are in charge, you’re not alone in your concerns. University of Edinburgh researcher Andrea Ford said, “If I lived in a state where abortion was actively being criminalized, I would not use a period tracker – that’s for certain” (opens in new tab).


Beyond fertility apps

Overzealous use of police warrants could weaken more than just fertility applications. Cynthia Conti-Cook, a technology fellow at the Ford Foundation, tells Reuters that “it is highly possible that those tech companies will be asked for information linked to search history, to websites visited” (opens in new tab).

There are important questions to be answered by huge digital corporations in this climate about how they address new, but old, laws. There are early hints that both Apple and Google, the two businesses that control the vast majority of smartphone operating systems, are uneasy with the move.

Cicconi said in an email to employees obtained by The Verge that “this is a fundamental transformation for the country that truly affects so many of us, especially women” (opens in new tab). It’s up to each person to decide how they want to handle the situation, whether it’s taking time to process, speaking up, volunteering outside of work, or not talking about it at all.”


Continuing its “effort to preserve user privacy,” the email states that the business will allow employees to ask for “relocation without reason” in order to ensure that “information on reproductive healthcare is accessible across our platforms.”

A health plan that covers out-of-state treatments has been part of Apple’s benefits package for more than a decade.

As Apple previously stated to CNBC, it “supports our employees’ rights to make their own reproductive health decisions” (opens in new tab).


Employees can travel out-of-state for medical care if it is not available in their home state because Apple’s complete benefits have been in place for more than a decade.

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