Apps earnings

How Apps Exploit Her Menstrual Cycle


As a late adopter of smartphones, Marie Kochsiek couldn’t help but be thrilled the first time she encountered the millions of apps available on the market. Period-tracking apps, in particular, caught her eye. Finally, she thought, she wouldn’t have to manually fill out the paperwork her gynecologist gave her after each visit, but instead she could digitally monitor her menstrual cycle.

“I was so excited at the time that I told a friend about it. She asked me if I was sure it was a safe option. She was involved in internet politics,” she said. recalls Kochsiek. Behind pink interfaces and mascots, some apps follow more than a user’s rules. They often have access to a user’s name, location, email address, browsing history, and more. ‘a user, etc., all to provide targeted advertising. When reports began to emerge of how these apps monetize and sell user information to third parties, Kochsiek was concerned but refused to back down. old analog method.

Instead, Kochsiek felt motivated to develop an alternative app called .drip, a cycle tracker that only stores data on your device. As with other cycle apps, .drip allows users to monitor their menstrual health and track their flow and fertile days. The difference is that users don’t have to agree to invasive practices, like allowing an app to access their microphone or having intimate data, like sexual encounters or a week’s worth of heavy menstrual flow, stored on a company’s servers. company several kilometers from them. . But the popularity of non-commercial trackers lags far behind bigger players like Mi Calendario Menstrual, Flo, and Clue, which total up to 160 million downloads in consumer app stores.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 ruling establishing a federal — and constitutional — right to terminate a pregnancy, sparked new concerns about how companies use data menstrual. “It seems that these [popular] companies have more to gain from me tracking my menstrual cycle than I get as an individual. The payoff for their business ventures is greater,” says Julia Kloiber, co-founder of SUPERRR Lab, a feminist organization advocating for an equal digital future. For Kloiber, non-commercial trackers are a safer option for following the rules. “It’s important that these alternatives are developed so that people have the opportunity to change,” says Kloiber. More free and non-commercial alternatives have entered the market in recent years. They steer the conversation towards data protection, but also steer it away from the mass market approach to these applications.

And it makes room for people with varying identities and needs. Take for example Periodical, a gender-neutral tracker that works offline and only stores data on your phone or memory card. Like .drip, Periodical is open source, meaning the code behind the app is free to share and check for data security issues, for example. Open source technology remains in conversation with the community, Kochsiek says.

On June 13, a Spanish non-profit tech organization called Eticas released a report analyzing the privacy practices of 12 popular fertility apps. The report concluded that only one of them, WomanLog, does not sell or share user data under any circumstances. Research on menstrual trackers and their use of personal data goes back a few years. In 2019, a UK-based charity, Privacy International, warned that five periodic trackers were sharing user data with Facebook and other third parties for commercial purposes.

This article was provided by Deutsche Welle