Pregnancy tracking apps and your privacy: What each woman needs to realize

We input plenty of information into our phone pregnancy and fertility apps. Some of these records are notably non-public, the kind of statistics we would not need everybody, especially our employers, to get entry. But as the Washington Post found out these days, Ovia, a popular logo of being pregnant, parenting, and fertility apps, gives a model of its apps that employers can provide as a worker health benefit, which means employers have access to several non-public facts.

The information is anonymous, so employers should not be able to target a specific worker (even though research suggests it’s no longer impossible to become aware of human beings through anonymized statistics). Still, they sincerely use it to tune their workforces.

Companies that encourage Ovia will help them keep on employee clinical charges and get moms again to work quickly by supporting them to stay healthier. According to the Post, this is part of Ovia’s sales pitch to groups. (Motherly has contacted Olivia but has not yet heard again from the employer. We will update this submission if we do.)

From the organization’s angle, being pregnant can be a massive fee for businesses’ investment in employee medical health insurance. In theory, Ovia is offered to people in the hopes that by monitoring their pregnancies, girls will live healthier and price the agencies much less.

“The truth that ladies’ pregnancies are being tracked that carefully using employers could be very traumatic,” Deborah C. Peel, founding father of the Texas nonprofit Patient Privacy Rights, tells The Post. “There’s a lot of discrimination in opposition to moms and families inside the place of business, and they cannot trust their employer to have their pleasant hobbies at heart.

The Washington Post file raised worries approximately how employers may use pregnancy records. However, even if you’re pregnant, app facts aren’t going on your corporation; you may need to consider which your data is finishing up, why the app exists in any respect, and simply why it’s far loose to download. When it involves the virtual global, if we are now not purchasing something ourselves, our records are usually the product.

Back in 2016, Peel raised these issues in another interview with the Post, noting that “This sort of statistics for ladies is very intimate” and that “The implications are genuinely huge: There are in reality no legal guidelines that protect that records from being sold, disclosed, or trade — for any purpose, be it advertising and marketing or studies. So maybe, before logging our sex lives, durations, and pregnancies, we need to suppose extra approximately where that information is going.

Joana Varon founded Coding Rights, a Brazil­-based girls-­run organization that works to “divulge and redress the electricity imbalances built into the technology.” Along with Natasha Feliz and others, Varon has researched and reviewed menstrual-tracking apps and their dating.

Her team concluded that the maximum of those apps “depends on the production and evaluation of records for economic sustainability.” In other words: Tracking our intervals has ended up with any other form of unpaid work for girls. We put in our statistics, and the groups use our intimate statistics to make cash and tell advertising and marketing techniques.

Brianna Bell, a millennial mom who works as a contract creator, hasn’t been involved in approximately an organization monitoring her information, as she becomes the usage of the patron version of Olivia’s pregnancy and parenting apps for 18 months. But she no longer comprehends that the organization behind those apps should sell her facts. “It looks like a completely massive breach of privateness,” she tells Glamour.

“It makes me uncomfortable, and it looks like this corporation has preyed on ladies in the most thrilling and inclined time in their life. The controversy around Ovia is highlighting critical trouble for our generation. Now, how many of our records will we want to exchange for convenience? Periods, fertility, and being pregnant signs can all be tracked offline, and app makers could do nicely to center girls as the clients for apps like those, as opposed to the product.


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