Menstrual tracking apps slammed by Mozilla for mishandling personal data

The Mozilla Foundation is tackling a delicate subject, monitoring periods and pregnancy. After scrutinizing the practices of many popular applications, the organization denounces their lack of confidentiality.

Most reproductive health tracking apps have opaque privacy policies.. In his latest studythe Mozilla Foundation does not go out of its way to qualify the somewhat too lax security practices of pregnancy and period monitoring applications.

8 apps out of 10 pinned

As it regularly does, the nonprofit organization behind the Firefox browser investigated whether these data-packed apps were properly protecting their users. Unsurprisingly, the result is not encouraging. 8 of the 10 applications analyzed inherit the little macaron”privacy not included” that Mozilla affixes to gadgets or services that are not very respectful of privacy.

The subject of menstrual tracking apps and pregnancy is particularly delicate at the moment. Since the revocation of the Roe vs. Wade judgment in the United States, these software programs have been at the heart of many fears, because they centralize critical information on women’s reproductive health. More generally, all the major web platforms are in an uncomfortable position as their role has become central in the contests surrounding abortion in this country. Recently, a teenage girl was arrested by the police after Facebook forwarded messages to authorities about her attempted abortion.

In such a context, analyzing the privacy protection policies of apps such as Clue or Glow had therefore become essential, according to Mozilla. “Overnight, apps and devices trusted by millions can be used to punish people who want abortions“, says Ashley Boyd, public policy manager at Mozilla.”Companies that collect personal health information need to be extra vigilant […] especially in a post-Roe vs Wade world“, adds Jen Caltrider, another executive at Mozilla.

Opaque data management

Most apps pinned by Mozilla”do not provide clear guidance on what data can be shared with authorities“. One in particular, Pregnancy · Sprout, does not provide any information on its personal data protection policy. Free and informed consent for the sharing of personal information with third parties also seems to be very randomly respected. Even the popular German app Clue does not find favor with Mozilla.While the foundation is pleased that the app respects the GDPR, it regrets on the other hand that certain data is linked to a unique identifier which can make it possible to de-anonymize certain users.

Only one application, Euki, is truly recommendable according to Mozilla. With data stored directly on the device, protection via two PIN codes and even a feature that allows the display of false information to deceive prying eyes, it is the only application that raises the level. If you want to see what the organization blames each of the applications in particular, Privacy not included explains in detail (but in English) the problems related to each of the analyzed software.

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