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POV: I’m sitting at a coffee shop, getting this tiktok texted to me. Followed by: 

“Greetings, fellow witch. I use the Stardust app to map my periods to the moon, stars, and friends. Join the sisterhood.”

Initially, I was intrigued but terrified all the same. 

I am deeply committed to and have had a long-term relationship with the period tracking app Clue. Opening the Clue app, I can see every cycle I’ve had since May of 2016. I can see that I had my period on my birthday in 2017 or that I was bleeding when I graduated high school in 2018. I can see that I completely forgot to log my period in November of 2019. Clicking on a graphic of a calendar with a red line will show details down to what collection method I was using or what my daily symptoms were. 

After getting this text, I was forced to confront how much data the app has on me and wonder if this could be used against me.  

I’m not the only one who has been feeling this way. There has been a massive call for people to delete their period tracking apps out of fear that their sexual and reproductive health data could be used against them. It’s estimated that around a million people use a period tracking app to monitor their cycle and menstrual health. Since the leaked release in May of a draft opinion from the Supreme Court indicating that Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that guarantees the constitutional right to an abortion, would be overturned, app users, myself included, fear that all the information stored on their app about their cycle can be used against them. Concerns over privacy are only amplified in states with strict limitations on abortion care.

Cyber security activists and lawyers alike are urging users of these apps to delete them immediately. The concerns arise because applications are not clear about privacy policy. The harsh reality is, yes, in some cases this information could be used against you if were to ever be prosecuted for an abortion. While experts say it’s unlikely that a period-tracking app would be the sole piece of evidence used if someone were building a case against you for seeking an abortion, it’s about weighing the convenience of the health tracking app. What a scary world we live in. 

Fear not, folks, no need to go analog with a calendar on the wall, there is a solution. Planned Parenthood has its own period app Spot On. Spot on is a birth control and period tracker, and it’s a safe tool people can use to take control of their period, birth control, or sexual health. It’s a useful tool for anyone who wants to understand their menstrual cycle, regardless of whether or not they’re on birth control. With patient privacy and security being the top priority, data from Spot on will never be sold or distributed. 

The user data from Spot On is stored on servers, including third-party cloud services that are configured and maintained by Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The data collected is only used to improve Spot On’s features by analyzing how users interact with the app.

While there is an answer, it’s important to acknowledge that the fact we’re even having this conversation is frankly terrifying. No one should ever fear arrest or prosecution due to a pregnancy outcome—obviously. Everyone deserves safe access to legal, shame-free, abortion. However, it's important to know that mobile apps — not related to Planned Parenthood — have different privacy policies and make their own decisions about how to use data.

Tags: menstruation, periods, app, spoton, spot-on, period_tracker, spot_on, tracker