How cycle apps use your sensitive data

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Who would you tell about the last time you had sex and whether you used contraception? And what would you do if that person told others? Your cycle app knows exactly this intimate information about you – and may pass on this sensitive data without being asked. But most women aren’t aware of this.

We took a closer look at some of the most popular cycle apps and cycle trackers. The result: Some cycle apps pass on sensitive data without the user’s consent.

This data is passed on

In principle, all data that the app stores can be passed on. At first glance, this is information that you enter into the app. From cycle data that the app needs to function correctly like body temperature, cervical mucus and period bleeding. To data that the app doesn’t necessarily need like age, weight, height, intercourse, ovulation and pregnancy tests. To additional data that makes it easy for users to monitor their cycle more closely such as mood, pain, cramps, sleep, skin, hair, shift work, alcohol consumption, travel, illnesses, medications and more.

At second glance, your user behavior also reveals information about you. Downloading a cycle app, for example, already suggests that you are a woman of childbearing age and, depending on the app, whether you have a desire to have children or are pregnant. Some apps are clever and offer everything from one source. So you can use the app first to use contraception or to get pregnant and later to track the pregnancy.

Data is passed on to these places

Internet giants like Facebook and Google thrive on just such data. They feed their black boxes with data about you. With this data, they can create an increasingly accurate picture of you, so that you, as a user, become downright transparent. And that’s without you even having a profile on Facebook or Google. Facebook earns its money with this data, because this data is in turn used strategically by companies that optimally advertise their products on the largest advertising platforms on the Internet and thus also sell them. Facebook and Google play in the top league here.

Your data is valuable and profitable

Women are generally considered to be quite willing to buy. The more detailed the user data, the better the user’s buying behavior can be estimated and even predicted. This information is used to display advertising that is perfectly tailored to you. This includes much more than just topics or brands that interest you. It goes, for example, from certain times or days of the week to different moods. The connection between mood and buying behavior is now well established. And mood swings over the course of the menstrual cycle and changes in mood during pregnancy are just as well known. Maybe you know these funny coincidences: You just get your period and suddenly the advertisement of your favorite chocolate is displayed. Or you are newly pregnant, only you and your partner know about it, and all the advertising on the Internet consists only of strollers and diapers.

The data collected about you, however, also provides a profound insight into your behavioral patterns. Are you always out and about on weekends when you ovulate, and do you like to drink alcohol? Do you like to order fast food just before your period? All this data that the cycle app collects is combined with other data about you in the black box and turns you into a transparent customer.

Data from pregnant women is particularly lucrative

Pregnant women’s data is the most coveted. Pregnant women are entering completely new territory from a brand’s point of view, which needs to be shaped: Which stroller is particularly suitable? Which diapers? Which baby food? This is where personalized advertising can have a particularly strong influence on new buying behavior and brand loyalty. So it’s not surprising that data from pregnant women is 15 times more valuable than normal data. It’s a lucrative business, and behind many a cycle and pregnancy app is a corporation that actually just collects data.

What you can do

You are not at the mercy of this, but can actively do something. Use an app or a tracker from the EU, or even better, from Germany. Here, the data protection regulations are much stricter and more regulated than in other EU countries. You can find this information in the imprint on the app’s website. There you will also find the privacy policy, which should list which data is collected and stored for which purpose. In addition, you can also edit the privacy settings directly in the cycle app.

Your sensitive data is safe with OvulaRing!

We at OvulaRing neither share nor sell your data. In addition, your personal data such as your name and address are stored completely separately from your sensitive data, such as your cycle data. An assignment is therefore not possible.

Furthermore, as a medical device, OvulaRing is subject to strict safety and data protection regulations. In addition, external data protection officers regularly check compliance with these regulations. Your sensitive data is safe with us.

References

Privacy International. No Body’s Business But Mine: How Menstruation Apps Are Sharing Your Data. https://www.privacyinternational.org/long-read/3196/no-bodys-business-mine-how-menstruations-apps-are-sharing-your-data Zugriff: 29.01.2021

Coding rights. MENSTRUAPPS – How to turn your period into money (for others). https://chupadados.codingrights.org/en/menstruapps-como-transformar-sua-menstruacao-em-dinheiro-para-os-outros/ Zugriff: 29.01.2021

Barbara Wimmer. Future Zone. Wie Menstruations-Apps Daten mit Facebook teilen. https://futurezone.at/netzpolitik/wie-menstruations-apps-daten-mit-facebook-teilen/400601066 Zugriff: 04.02.2021

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