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Periods, pregnancy and privacy

EFF

This report was originally published on eff.org on 27 July 2017.

Women's health is big business. There are a staggering number of applications for Android and iOS which claim to help people keep track of their monthly cycle, know when they may be fertile, or track the status of their pregnancy. These apps entice the user to input the most intimate details of their lives, such as their mood, sexual activity, physical activity, physical symptoms, height, weight, and more. But how private are these apps, and how secure are they in fact? After all, if an app has such intimate details about our private lives, it would make sense to ensure that it is not sharing those details with anyone, such as another company or an abusive family member. To this end, EFF and Gizmodo reporter Kashmir Hill have taken a look at some of the privacy and security properties of nearly twenty different fertility and pregnancy tracking applications. While this is not a comprehensive investigation of these applications by any means, we did uncover several privacy issues, some notable security flaws, and a few interesting security features in the applications we examined. We conclude that while these applications may be fun to use, and in some cases useful to the people who need them, women should carefully consider the privacy and security tradeoffs before deciding to use any of these applications.

Read our report: "The Pregnancy Panopticon".

This document is a technical supplement to “What Happens When You Tell the Internet You're Pregnant” published by Kashmir Hill on jezebel.com.

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