Americans Are Deleting Their Period-Tracking Apps. Should Aussies?

“Delete your period tracking apps today,” tweeted out the American author Jessica Khoury on June 25. The post has over 90,000 retweets and over 300,000 likes. Less than five minutes beforehand, Khoury posted just one word, “Crying.”

Because the Supreme Court has overturned Roe V. Wade, many women across the U.S are now falling off the precipice into a wide, terrifying unknown. This is because it’s now the prerogative of each state to ban abortions, make them illegal, and prosecute those who are desperate enough to need to break such laws. To make matters worse, 13 U.S states have trigger laws in place that will swiftly ban abortions within 30 days’ time.

SBS reported that because abortions will be banned in some states, law enforcement agencies might start acquiring data from period tracking apps. They could use this data to accuse someone of having or seeking an abortion. This is because these apps can record when one’s periods start and end, when you fall pregnant, when your pregnancy finishes, and some other incredibly sensitive information.

Moreover, law enforcement agencies might be able to obtain such data. On May 18, VICE reported that they were able to purchase details about which mobile phones had downloaded a period-tracking app. They were able to do this on a marketplace called Narrative.

It’s worth noting that law enforcement agencies might not even need to go to marketplaces like Narrative, they might be able to skip this step. As a law professor at the University of Sydney, named Kimberlee Weatherall, told SBS, “If that data exists, then police and prosecutors do have means to try and get that data by requesting it or subpoenaing it from the various organisations that hold that data.”

Related: Roe v. Wade Explained: What the US Supreme Court Overturning Roe v. Wade Means for Abortion Rights

Related: Roe V. Wade: Where Australians Should Protest and Donate

So, Should Aussies Delete Their Period-Tracking Apps?

Fortunately, Australia’s abortion laws are a lot less draconian than some states in America. This means that you are a lot less likely to have your period-tracking data used against you in a court of law. However, you should really consider whether it’s worth trusting such an application with such sensitive, personal information. VICE isn’t the only publication that has reported on period-tracking apps doing shifty stuff throughout the years. Vox reported on this issue back in 2016, The Wall Street Journal in 2019, and the story goes on.

Many period-tracking apps have stated that they want to change their practices now that Roe V. Wade has been overturned. Natural Cycles’ Co-Founder, Elina Berglund, stated, “I can confirm Natural Cycles is in the process of creating a completely anonymous experience for users.” But why is this happening now instead of months ago? Why let a telegraphed tragedy set the course of your company instead of taking care of your users in the first place?

Additionally, does anyone really want to become a guinea pig for one of these companies? Have they truly earned your trust? If you want to have a go at tracking your period analogue style, then here’s an idea from the artist Fussy Geek Wares and a resource from Mama Knows It All.

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