News & Analysis

Pregnancy and period tracking apps corrupt women’s privacy

30th June 2022
Sheryl Miles

Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right for women to get an abortion, allowing each state to decide on abortion laws. The decision destroyed 50 years of progress in women’s rights to privacy and the ability to choose for themselves.

According to the data collected by the Atlas VPN team, apps dedicated to women’s health, like pregnancy or period trackers, heavily collect sensitive data and share it with third parties. After the Supreme Court in the US overturned Roe v. Wade, information gathered from these apps could be used as evidence for getting an abortion.

The data was collected from multiple sources. We gathered the information about trackers and permissions in Android apps from Exodus, a privacy audit platform. On the other hand, data about trackers and permissions on iOS was taken from the App Privacy Report and the available information on the App Store.

A few most popular women’s health apps stand out when looking at trackers. Pregnancy App & Baby Tracker (Babycenter) has 15 trackers on their Android and 20 trackers on iOS applications. Some of those are third-party trackers, which collect data to analyse and profile your behaviour on the application.

Another app that stands out is Pregnancy Tracker & baby app WTE. The app has 7 and 22 trackers on its Android and iOS versions, respectively. Femometer Fertility Tracker application also uses several trackers, 6 on their Android version and 23 on the iOS app. 

Flo Period tracker & calendar app seems to have 2 trackers, the least among Android apps. At the same time, the MeetYou Period Tracker application has 3, the least amount of trackers among women’s health apps on iOS devices.

Permissions spy on your data

Permissions help the user regulate and control which system and device functions the application can access. Some functions may give away or store sensitive data about you, so choosing which permissions to allow is essential when protecting your privacy.

MeetYou Period Tracker has 36 permissions on their Android app, 8 of which could be considered dangerous. The iOS application requires 7 permissions, giving access to data that can be used to track you. Some of those permissions allow the app to read, modify or delete the contents of your shared storage.

Femometer Fertility Tracker Android app has 23 permissions (8 dangerous), while the iOS app has 8. The Android app asks for access to your location, discovering and connecting to Bluetooth devices, and even access to your camera. The iOS app permissions are not as invasive; however, they still track your interactions and other usage data in the app.

Pregnancy Tracker & baby app WTE on Android devices has 19 permissions (3 dangerous), meanwhile, the iOS version has 9. The least amount of permissions on Android and iOS devices can be found in the Spot on period tracker, 7 and 4, respectively.

During our research, we found some apps that even ask for permissions to access your search history and contact information, like your name and email address. This data could be sold to third-party services and used against women who are considering getting an abortion.

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