The case of a young woman who was arrested for her Facebook chats revived the alerts of feminist organizations.
The decision of the US Supreme Court of Justice to invalidate the right to abortion has led to an intense campaign that calls on women to eliminate the applications they use to control the dates of their menstruation, since they could be persecuted and accused of abortion.
The growing fear is based on the fact that the companies that operate these applications could sell the data of millions of users to the authorities or anti-abortion organizations that, in this way, would be in a position to monitor and analyze the information on menstrual cycles.
This would allow them to detect when a pregnancy has started or stopped and report to the courts women who, according to their suspicions, have had an abortion (or might be interested in doing so).
Since last June 24 the Court revoked the constitutional right to abortion that had been in force since 1973, feminists have been on alert due to the criminalization to which women have once again been subjected.
Before, at least 26 of the 50 states already contemplated the possibility of joining what the Court decided, but the legal disputes are ongoing. Missouri, for example, immediately adapted the decision, while in Texas and West Virginia there were judges who authorized the temporary resumption of abortions.
In Kansas, the citizenry voted to retain this right, but Georgia gave fetuses legal recognition as “dependents.” And in Louisiana there is already a project to equate abortion with homicide.
If you’re seeing the tweets from American women recommending deleting period tracking apps it’s only because they have wonderful laws that allow you to report someone if you think they had an illegal abortion and earn a reward.
– Diego DNM (@DNMRULES) June 24, 2022
Another of the immediate consequences was the record increase in the sale of contraceptives in US pharmacies and of abortion pills that are sent by mail from Europe.
In addition, specific cases were known such as that of a girl who became pregnant after being raped and who, in order to have an abortion, had to travel from Ohio to Indiana before the ban was validated in this state.
This week, the alarms were revived with the story of a 17-year-old girl and her mother who were accused of the crimes of illegal abortion and concealment of a corpse. The evidence presented by the Police is his chats on Facebook.
Digital privacy was not respected. For this reason, the message “Delete your period tracking apps today” was once again recalled on social media.
Menstrual cycle data collected by apps along with location tracking is already being sold. To whom? Precisely (among others) to the same lobbies that seek to repeal the right to abortion. Friends, do not use apps to monitor your period. https://t.co/FKJXsCtZtW
— ascetic (@asceticpath) May 4, 2022
One of the tweets The one that calls for erasing the applications of menstruation that has had the greatest impact is that of the writer Jessica Khoury, who accumulates hundreds of thousands of likes, retweets and replies.
“Years ago, pirates already said that digital privacy had to be defended, even in democracies. Because you never know,” warned one user. “There are cases in which they have sold user data to companies so that the announcement of contraceptives, pregnancy tests, baby products or things like that appear at the right time, things are a bit cloudyadded another.
One tweet summed up: “American women warning each other to delete rule apps because it can be used as evidence in case they get sued for having an abortion; it’s absolutely dystopian.” What follows, several warned, is the annulment of same-sex marriage.
“Delete your period tracking apps today”. The USA have just set the clock back 50 yrs and the thought that period apps could be tracked, is mind boggling but oh so likely. pic.twitter.com/oTCudFavO3
— Rosalie Dobson (@SublimeChick) June 26, 2022
They also recalled that people who help a woman to interrupt her pregnancies will be criminalized. “It could be the taxi driver who took you to the clinic, your best friend, your neighbor. Anyone who has not reported you,” explained one user, while another concluded: “It’s a damn witch hunt because they hate women. There is no other explanation. To those ironically called ‘pro-lifers’, life doesn’t give a shit. The only thing that matters to them is control and the desire for power.”
The general recommendation is to delete the applications and go back to tracking the menstrual cycle in paper diaries. It will always be easier to destroy them.
On the other hand, some companies have pledged to side with women and respect their privacy.
“We want to make our commitment to you clear. We are women who own an app founded on the belief in freedom of choice and privacy. We do not sell data, have not sold data and will not sell data. We have encrypted your information to make sure that neither the government nor the companies will have access to the data that only belongs to you. It will have to be like this forever,” said, for example, Stardust Period Tracker.
Other companies reported that they are updating their forms so that users’ emails and phone numbers do not appear, although cybersecurity experts have already warned that search histories can be tracked.
Several platforms have produced guides to counter digital surveillance. In addition to deleting period tracking applications, they propose delete all personal data with which women signed up on those sites.
They also recommend block geolocation locator before buying contraceptives. The same measure serves to prevent people who are in an abortion clinic waiting room from being located.
Other tips are: do not always buy contraceptives in the same pharmacy; avoid chains that have surveillance cameras; and pay in cash because bank cards can be traced.
“Don’t discuss your cycle with anyone you don’t completely trust”is another suggestion that refers to “The Handmaid’s Tale”, the successful novel in which Margaret Atwood imagines a world governed by religious fundamentalists who completely control the sexual and reproductive lives of women.
Only, in this case, it is no longer a fiction.