Home Tech Data Privacy Concerns Prompt Reevaluation of Period Tracking Apps

Data Privacy Concerns Prompt Reevaluation of Period Tracking Apps


The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Investigates Data Security Concerns Surrounding Period and Fertility Tracking Apps.

Period and fertility tracking applications, which rely on user data to plot menstrual cycles, are currently under review by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). These apps claim to assist with various period-related health matters, including pinpointing optimal times for conception. However, the ICO has voiced concerns about data security and transparency among app developers, citing survey findings.

According to the ICO, survey results indicate that many users are apprehensive about the security of their shared data and the transparency of app developers. A survey commissioned by the regulator revealed that one-third of women have used apps to track periods or fertility. Among the respondents, 59% expressed concerns about data transparency, while 57% worried about the security of their submitted information.

Furthermore, the research indicated that over half of app users noticed an increase in baby or fertility-related advertisements after signing up, with 17% finding these ads distressing.

Emily Keaney, deputy commissioner of regulatory policy at the ICO, acknowledged the sensitivity of the information involved and emphasized the importance of safeguarding user privacy and implementing transparent policies in health apps.

The ICO’s review will investigate whether app privacy policies are overly complex or confusing, potentially leaving users uncertain about their consent for data sharing. It will also assess whether apps collect excessive amounts of data and if users receive unwanted targeted advertising.

A study conducted by the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps last year revealed that most period trackers share data with third parties, and consent for personal information usage often faces issues.

The ICO encourages app users to share their experiences via a survey on its website and will also conduct focus groups and user testing. Women’s health groups are offering support in this endeavor.

The regulator has reached out to companies offering period and fertility tracking apps, including some of the most popular apps in the UK, to gain insights into how they handle users’ personal information.

The ICO’s survey involved 1,152 UK women aged 18 and above.

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