Why Deleting Your Period Tracker Won’t Protect Your Privacy

The biggest acquisitions were Clue and a little-known astronomy-based period tracker, Stardust, both of which made public commitments to data protection after the Supreme Court ruling. A spokesperson for Clue said the company, which is based in Europe, will not comply with requests for users’ health information from US law enforcement.

While period trackers seem like an obvious source of information about reproductive health decisions, experts say other digital information is more likely to put women at risk. Cynthia Conti-Cook, a civil rights attorney and technology fellow at the Ford Foundation, investigated prosecutions of pregnant people accused of feticide or endangering their fetuses and cataloged the digital evidence used against them in a academic paper she published in 2020.

We have to start with the type of data that has already been used to criminalize people,” Ms. Conti-Cook, who previously worked in a public defender’s office in New York, said. “The text to your sister that says, ‘I’m pregnant.’ The search history for abortion pills or visiting websites that have information about abortion.”

One of the matters that Ms. Conti-Cook highlighted was that of Latice Fisher, a Mississippi woman charged with second-degree murder after a stillbirth at home in 2017. According to a local report, investigators downloaded the contents of her phone, including her Internet search history , and she “admitted to doing Internet searches, including how to induce a miscarriage” and how to buy pregnancy-terminating drugs such as mifepristone and misoprostol online. After considerable public attention, the case against Ms. Fisher abandons.

In another case, in Indiana, text messages to a friend about taking abortion pills late in a pregnancy were used to convict Purvi Patel, who successfully appealed and had a 20-year sentence reduced for feticide and neglect of a dependent.

“Those text messages, those websites visited, those Google searches are the exact type of intent evidence that prosecutors want to stuff their bag of evidence,” Ms. Conti-Cook said.

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