A new Senate bill seeks to expand health data privacy protections.
After Roe’s reversal, activists and data privacy experts began warning period app users to delete their apps. Users would log their periods which would allow the app to learn a person’s cycle and is able to predict their fertility windows and prompt users when they might need to take a pregnancy test. Privacy experts raised concerns over the possibility that data collected by those apps could be used to identify people seeking abortions in states where abortions have been banned and criminalized. The new bill titled, “Upholding Protections for Health and Online Location Data (UPHOLD) Privacy Act” aims to prevent that.
Should it pass, the bill would give consumers more ownership over their health data and restrict companies’ ability to collect or use personal health information without consumer consent. Additionally, it would ban the use of personally identifying data for advertising whether that be collected from consumers, fitness trackers, medical centers, or browsing history.
The legislation was introduced by Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and Mazie Hirono. “Since the reversal of Roe, data brokers and tech firms have continued to profit from the private health and location data of millions of Americans, including those seeking reproductive health care services,” said Warren in a statement.(Opens in a new tab) “The UPHOLD Privacy Act would protect consumers’ sensitive data and their right to privacy.”
After Roe’s reversal, many period tracking apps made updates and statements assuring users’ data is safe — Flo launched “Anonymous Mode” which removes identifiable user information, Glow said it has never and will never sell user data, and Stardust announced it uses end-to-end encryption for all users — but it still remains to be seen what would happen if law enforcement requested period tracking app data to be turned over.
“With Republicans working to ban and criminalize reproductive health care nationwide, it’s critical we safeguard the reproductive data privacy of everyone in our country,” said Hirono in a statement. “Everyone should be able to trust that personal data about their bodies and their health care will be protected.”
The bill was only just introduced, in the meantime, here’s how to donate to abortion funds and reproductive justice networks across the country.