Attorneys general from ten states recently penned a letter to Apple calling on the tech giant to do more to protect people’s reproductive health data on mobile apps.
The letter, addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook, argued that apps available through Apple’s App Store currently don’t have enough measures in place to ensure that data doesn’t make its way into the hands of third parties or individuals who can use it to target people in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
“Apple has not done enough,” the letter posited. “Location history, search history, and adjacent health data pose a significant risk to individuals seeking or providing abortions, birth control or other reproductive healthcare.”
First, to delete data that’s not necessary for the app — like location or search history. Second, to provide clear notices that App Store apps may disclose user data to third parties about reproductive healthcare. Finally, for apps that gather reproductive health data to enact the same level of data privacy standards as Apple.
“These actions,” they wrote, “will safeguard reproductive health information from being wrongfully exploited by those who would use it to harm patients or providers.”
Without protecting that information, it’s possible for data brokers to gather reproductive health information from apps to be sold to marketing agencies or other data brokers. It can, however, also be used by law enforcement or others to target people in states where abortion has become criminalized.
In the letter, the authors noted that crisis pregnancy centers, often linked to anti-abortion groups, also purchase such data to develop ads or gather even more data from people seeking reproductive care, then use it to meddle with patients’ access to abortion or share the info with law enforcement.
Those included period tracking apps, pregnancy or fertility apps and even health and fitness wearables. Mozilla gave those 18 apps a “Privacy Not Included” warning label.