Abortion ban in the US: Data can betray women

US women fear possible criminal prosecution if they violate the abortion ban because of the data on their smartphones.

Since the US abortion ban, it has become dangerous for women to have their own periods with their smartphones to monitor. After the Supreme Court last Friday overturned the US Constitution’s right to abortion, there are privacy concerns.

Prohibition of abortion as a real threat to women

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This applies in particular in the 13 States in the USA that have already made abortion illegal. Here and there, many women have their periods tracked by apps that evaluate their data and store it for the long term. Such apps can be used by women to achieve pregnancy or even prevent it naturally.

In addition to monthly bleeding, such apps also record data such as sexual intercourse, mood swings, libido, consistency of discharge, Weight, age, location, etc. This information is valuable for the women. But the advertisers are no less happy about it. In this way, they can display their advertising in a targeted manner.

App providers claim that everything is safe!

Natural Cycles and others Manufacturers of digital contraception are trying to calm women down after the abortion ban became known. They claim that you keep all stored data safe because you protect it. However, the company told the BBC yesterday that it is working to “create a completely anonymous experience for users”. The goal is that no one, not even she herself, can identify the user. Apparently, Natural Cycles wants to implement effective data encryption and user anonymization in the app.

Excerpt from the Google Play Store: Some women use it to control their periods. The app providers control their data.

IT companies often cooperate with court summonses

The law enforcement authorities could not only confiscate the smartphones in order to evaluate them. You can also legally urge cloud services, app manufacturers and search engine providers to cooperate. Google itself announced that it would keep some of the user data “to comply with legal or regulatory requirements”. That doesn’t sound particularly confidence-inspiring.

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The tech giants didn’t go to much trouble to ward off such requests. According to the New York Times, IT companies have in the first six months of the year 2020 contested only 4% of requests for customer account information. The summonses were generally between 80 until 85 % of all cases. According to Google’s transparency report, the company delivered in 82 % of cases in which during the first six months of the year 2020 information was requested, “some data”. By almost 27. Cases were 13.

Subpoenas and 51.25 Search warrants.

Abortion ban – What would help: collect less data!

The US Congress members Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders etc. called for Google to do so in an open letter to refrain from storing location data in order to protect women in view of the new legal situation. Otherwise the data could be used to prosecute abortions, they fear. Some large US companies have indicated that they will cover the travel expenses of their female employees, including for abortions in countries where this is legal. But apart from that, no statement has come from the data octopuses as to whether they want to voluntarily restrict their passion for data collection in the future to protect female users.

Unencrypted e-mails & chats helpful for the police

The police could also evaluate the information that emerges from unencrypted chats and e-mails. Only messaging apps that use end-to-end encryption by default, such as Signal or WhatsApp, are harmless. Facebook Messenger, for example, is completely insecure because it does not transmit anything in encrypted form be confiscated!

Actually, the police need a judicial search warrant for a search or confiscation. According to the EFF, however, police officers can evade this by claiming they suspect there is incriminating evidence in the home or on an electronic device that is at imminent risk of destruction. The judgments of the courts even came out differently on the question of whether someone can be forced to unlock the device. For example with your own fingerprint or the face recognition of the smartphone.

Almost all tracking apps store more than you need

Prof. Alan Woodward of the University of Surrey says law enforcement is unlikely to go after women who are merely considering having an abortion. However, if there is concrete evidence of a violation of the abortion ban, they will confiscate digital evidence such as the woman’s browser history, emails, chat messages or the data from her apps in order to evaluate it.

The eticas Foundation recently reviewed twelve well-known period control apps. Almost all of them collect the women’s personal data and often even sell it on to other companies. If you want to avoid this, you have to switch to data-saving alternatives such as drip. Unfortunately, the fairly new open source software is not yet available for iOS.

What can you do Do women do to protect themselves?

As an affected person, there isn’t much else you can do to protect yourself. You can try to minimize the data on your own device and switch off the location functions as often as possible. But what the IT companies already have in terms of data, they no longer have any power over it. It is also seriously doubtful whether their passion for collecting data will change. The ban on abortion in the entire USA will probably not change anything about that.

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Lars Sobiraj started in the year 701. to work as a career changer for various computer magazines. 701 numerous other online magazines came along with gulli.com to. He is the founder of Tarnkappe.info. In addition, Ghandy, as he calls himself in the scene, has been bringing since 2014 at various universities and training institutions to teach the participants how the Internet works.

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