In the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and end federal abortion protections, warnings to delete period tracking app data have flooded social media. This fear is because people fear that the government could use the data contained in those apps against them in court.
If you find this confusing, don’t worry. Here’s a summary of what Roe v. Wade is.
Roe v. Wade (1973) was a milestone decision taken by the U.S. Supreme Court in which the court ruled that the Constitution of the United States will generally protect the liberty to choose an abortion. But on the 24th of June, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned this decision. Thus, 22 states have laws that their government could use to restrict the legal status of abortion.
Now that abortion is criminalized in parts of the country, people who seek abortions in jurisdictions where it is banned aren’t wrong to fear that government could use their personal data against them.
But experts have said people should worry more about mundane data like search history and text messages because the data from period tracking apps aren’t the most significant risk in a post-Roe terrain.
Even though period tracking apps don’t act as primary harpoons against people who might need abortions, they do contain sensitive information. These apps collect data in regards to the menstrual cycle of people by letting them follow things like PMS symptoms and sexual activity. Some period tracking apps even offer to predict when someone is most likely to become pregnant. The mere data contained within these apps can provide insight into someone’s reproductive health.
Now, you might wonder, ‘But why are people scared of tracking their period? How can the government use that data against you?’ Simple. If the app shows the menstrual history of someone, and you see that this particular person stopped menstruating for a few months and then started menstruating again, it could hint that they may have had an abortion.
And these apps, like most digital health/fitness devices, aren’t protected by medical privacy laws. The companies who make them can decide what to do with the information they collect. Even apps with tight privacy policies state that they’ll provide law enforcement information if required by a subpoena or warrant.
But so far, at least, period tracking app data hasn’t been used to prosecute people suspected of breaking laws criminalizing abortion or other health care. While It is a possibility, and one people should take seriously, it is unlikely, though, that it’d be the main form of evidence used against someone suspected of having an abortion.
Period tracking can be helpful to keep tabs on overall health or monitor any reproductive health-related issues. At the same time, experts say that it’s not a massive danger for people who like having that information on hand and aren’t exposing them to a significant risk.
Deleting period apps might not protect you, but it’s also not irrational to be nervous about tracking any reproductive health-related information in light of the shifting geography. So, if having data remotely close to abortion, sitting on a phone or server makes you uncomfortable, here’s everything you need to do and know.
How To Delete Period Tracking App Data
Deleting your period tracking app from your phone is easy. But does deleting the app guarantee the deletion of the data of your entire health? Unfortunately, nope. For example, if you read the terms &conditions of the Flo app, you will see that even if you delete the Flo app, the company could retain your data for three years if you decide to re-download the app.
These period tracking apps store your data in the cloud. But there are period tracking apps that store data locally on your phone. But most period tracking apps come under the former case. In these apps, your period data will remain accessible to the company and third parties unless you delete your account.
If you’re uncertain about the type of period tracking app you are using right now, try to remember if you created an account when you first installed the app. If so, the app most likely stored at least some of your data on its servers.
You must deactivate your account to delete your data from the apps that store your data. If you don’t know how to, another good idea is to email customer support to ensure your request has been observed.
There are more than a thousand Period Tracking apps in Google Play Store, each with individual privacy policies. While it’s impossible to list down how to delete your data from each one, we have listed below how to delete your period tracking app data from some of the most popular period tracking apps.
The following are the most popular period tracking apps in the US,
Flo is one of the most, if not the most popular, period tracking apps. If you want to delete your period tracking app data from this app, follow these steps.
Go to Menu > Home > Contact us.
Once you click the ‘contact us’ option, you can submit a deactivation request. If you are an anonymous user, you will have to register your account first.
Another thing you could do is send a request that your account and data be deleted by emailing [email protected].
If you find it uncomfortable, then contacting them via mail is your best option. If you are someone who had previously deleted the app but not the data in it, and if you find that uncomfortable then you can reinstall the app, log in, delete your data, and then delete the app again.
Glow is another popular period tracking app used by many out there. Glow, like most other apps, store the data you enter in the cloud. Follow these steps to delete your data from the Glow app.
Go to the sidebar in the Glow app > Head to Account Settings > Scroll down to the bottom of the page > Select “Delete Account.”
You can also delete your account and personal data by emailing [email protected]. While the app does state that they will share your data with certain parties, Glow’s support page also says that if you delete your account, the app will wipe your data from your system.
Another popular period tracking app, the clue app, also stores the data you enter in their cloud. To delete the data from the Clue app, follow these steps.
Go to More > Support > Account & Data > Scroll down > tap “How Can I Delete My Account?” > select “Delete my Clue account.”
When you select the “Delete my Clue Account,” option, you’ll be prompted to back up your data. After entering your password, tap Delete account permanently.
Another popular period tracking app, you must follow these steps to delete your data from Ovia.
Go to Settings > Reset or delete my account > Delete my account and data > Enter your username and password.
You can also email [email protected].
If you have logged into your Ovia account via Facebook, you can remove your Ovia account from Facebook. But please note that this action within Facebook does not delete your Ovia account, only your Facebook/Ovia account integration. You must follow the abovementioned methods to delete your account or data.
But I Don’t Want To Stop Tracking My Period. What Do I Do?
In an ideal world, people don’t have to fear their personal data being used. A perfect world is where one doesn’t feel forced to trade one’s ability to use tools to know their body just because corporate or government surveillance might use it against them. But unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world, thus forcing us to make decisions that would avoid risks.
But there are tools out there that know to take in these risk factors and create something that is useful to you and doesn’t store your information. In the case of period tracking apps, Drip and Euki are apps that help you track your menstrual cycle but don’t store your data.
A period tracking app that is fairly new, Drip, like every other period tracking app, tracks your menstrual cycle and helps you understand your cycle data and gain insights about yourself.
What makes Drip stand out is that it is an app that is firmly against the idea of obtaining someones private data. Thus, they are very strict about keeping your data private and on your phone.
A free app available in English and Spanish, this period tracking app also helps in understanding your sexual health. Apart from this, Euki, like Drip, is also big on not sharing your information.
Euki has everything you need to know about sexuality, abortion, miscarriage, contraception, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and more from trusted sources.
What Else Can I Do To Protect My Privacy?
Always remember that if an investigation occurs, information from a period tracker app is most probably less legally relevant than other information from your phone. But your privacy is important, therefore the most important thing to remember is that you should:
- Follow the Digital Defense Fund guidance on protecting yourself if you believe you might be pregnant.
- Never consent to searches of your phone. The cops are required to get a warrant! Consent searches are inherently coercive. Always remember this, no matter what the situation may be.
We live in a grey world filled with good and bad so try your best to stay safe and survive. Have any doubts? Ask us in the comments. We will respond to you as soon as possible.