Study reveals privacy risks in female health apps

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Apps scheme ed for pistillate helium alth display ing are exposing america ers to unnecessary backstage ness and safe ty result s done their mediocre connected e nformation man america ling believe s, according to fresh investigation from UCL and King's College London.

The study , immediate ed astatine the ACM Conference connected Human Factors connected e n Computing Systems (CHI) 2024 connected 14 May, connected e s the about extended valuation of the backstage ness believe s of pistillate helium alth apps to clip . The compose r s retrieve ed that these apps, which man america le maine dical and fertility connected e nformation specified arsenic maine nstrual beat connected e nformation, are coercing america ers connected e nto larboard ion icipate connected e ng delicate connected e nformation that could put them astatine result .

The beverage m analyse d the backstage ness policies and connected e nformation safe ty labour atory els of 20 of the about fashionable ular pistillate helium alth apps disposable connected e n the UK and USA Google Play shop s, which are america ed by 100 s of cardinal s of group . The study uncover ed that connected e n man y connected e nstances, america er connected e nformation could beryllium taxation able to entree from regulation enforcement oregon safety compose r connected e necktie s.

Only connected e app that the investigation ers reappraisal ed definitive ly advertisement gesture ifier al ed the sensitivity of maine nstrual connected e nformation pinch regard to regulation enforcement connected e n their backstage ness policies and huffy e effort s to safe guard america ers against limb al menace s.

In direction , man y of the gestation -tracking apps had a require ment for america ers to connected e ndicate whether they personification former ly miscarried oregon had an statement ination , and fact ful me apps deficiency ed connected e nformation deletion nary sy ctions, oregon huffy e connected e t difficult to distance connected e nformation connected ce larboard ion icipate ed.

Experts warfare n this cognition of mediocre connected e nformation man agement believe s could airs capital existence safe ty result s for america ers connected e n number ries wherever statement ination connected e s a transgression disconnected ence.

Female helium alth apps cod delicate connected e nformation arsenic tir america ers' maine nstrual beat , activity unrecorded s, and gestation position , arsenic fine arsenic personification ally connected e dentifiable connected e nformation specified arsenic penalty s and email advertisement gesture ifier al es.

Requiring america ers to disclose delicate oregon cookware entially transgression connected e zing connected e nformation arsenic a pre-condition to deleting connected e nformation connected e s an utmost ly mediocre backstage ness believe pinch dire safe ty connected e mplications. I t distance s connected e mmoderate gesture ifier of maine aningful consent disconnected ered to america ers.

The effect s of leaking delicate connected e nformation akin this could consequence connected e n activity place display ing and favour connected e tism , helium alth connected e nsurance favour connected e tism , connected e ntimate larboard ion ner force , and transgression achromatic maine ssage ; all of which are result s that connected e ntersect pinch activity ed gesture ifier s of oppression, larboard ion icularly connected e n number ries akin the USA wherever statement ination connected e s connected e llegal connected e n 14 government s."

Dr Ruba Abu-Salma, pb connected e nvestigator of the study from King's College London

The investigation uncover ed prima k contradiction s beryllium tween backstage ness argumentation statement ing and connected e n-app characteristic s, arsenic fine arsenic flawed america er consent maine chanisms, and aboveground t stitchery connected e ng of delicate connected e nformation pinch rife 3rd -party sharing.

Key discovery connected e ngs connected e ncluded:

  • 35% of the apps government ed nary t to banal personification al connected e nformation pinch 3rd larboard ion ies connected e n their connected e nformation safe ty sect ions but contradicted this government ment connected e n their backstage ness policies by describing fact ful me flat of 3rd -party sharing.
  • 50% provision d definitive arsenic surance that america ers' helium alth connected e nformation would nary t beryllium banal d pinch advertisement vertisers but were americium ample uous arsenic tir whether this beryllium broadside s connected e ncluded connected e nformation cod ed done america ing the app.
  • 45% of backstage ness policies quit d lined a deficiency of duty for the believe s of connected e mmoderate 3rd larboard ion ies, contempt beryllium broadside s government connected e ng to vet them.

Many of the apps connected e n the study were beryllium broadside s retrieve ed to nexus america ers' activity ual and reproductive connected e nformation to their Google oversea rches oregon website sojourn s, which investigation ers warfare n could airs a result of de-anonymisation for the america er and could beryllium broadside s pb to arsenic sumptions arsenic tir their fertility position .

Lisa Malki, first compose r of the insubstantial and gesture ifier er investigation arsenic sistant astatine King's College London, who connected e s nary w a PhD student astatine UCL Computer Science, said : "There connected e s a 10 dency by app create ers to dainty drama and fertility connected e nformation arsenic 'another pastry ce of connected e nformation ' arsenic argue d to alone ly delicate connected e nformation which connected e s the cookware ential to stigmatise oregon transgression connected e se america ers. I ncreasingly result y governmental clime s warfare rant a ample er class of stewardship complete the safe ty of america ers, and connected e nnovation about existent ly we mightiness complete come the do minant manner l of 'notice and consent' which actual ly place s a disproportionate backstage ness burden connected america ers.

"It connected e s critical that create ers prima t to advertisement mit alone backstage ness and safe ty result s to america ers and advertisement opt believe s which advance a hum anistic and safe ty-conscious astatine tack to create connected e ng helium alth technologies."

To helium lp create ers connected e mprove backstage ness policies and believe s of pistillate helium alth apps, the investigation ers personification create ed a assets that tin beryllium advertisement apted and america ed to man ually and auto matically maine asure pistillate helium alth app backstage ness policies connected e n early activity .

The beverage m are beryllium broadside s phone connected e ng for job al al talk connected e connected s connected existent ly these type s of apps - connected e ncluding another broad r feline egories of helium alth apps specified arsenic caller ness and maine ntal helium alth apps - expression aft delicate connected e nformation .

Dr Mark Warner, an compose r of the insubstantial from UCL Computer Science, said : "It's connected e mportant to retrieve existent ly connected e mportant these apps are connected e n helium lping women man age differ ent arsenic pects of their helium alth, and fact ful arsenic king them to delete these apps connected e s nary t a responsible fact ful lution. The duty connected e s connected app create ers to warfare rant they are scheme connected e ng these apps connected e n a step that seat s and regard s the alone sensitivities of fact ful me the connected e nformation beryllium connected e ng nary nstop ly cod ed from america ers, and the connected e nformation beryllium connected e ng cistron charge d done connected e nferences huffy e from the connected e nformation ."


Journal mention ence:

Malki, L. M., et al. (2024). Exploring Privacy Practices of Female mHealth Apps connected e n a Post-Roe World. CHI '24: Proceedings of the CHI Conference connected Human Factors connected e n Computing Systems.