My jaw dropped when I read it. More than 100 million women around the world each month use free menstruation-tracking apps with names such as Flo, Glow, Ovia, and Cue.” (“A Different Conception Of Privacy,” by Naomi Kresge et al, Bloomberg Businessweek, January 28, 20.) Never mind the cutesy monikers, which seem a little condescending. I must ask why a woman needs an app when Mother Nature provides one of her own: bloating, fatigue, irritability, pimples, and constipation?
As a tool to prevent pregnancy, commercial apps offer little security. Maybe they can suggest days when it’s best to avoid intercourse, but a trip to the pharmacy offers surer alternatives and with greater privacy.
Speaking of privacy, I doubt many young woman have read the gobbledygook described as “terms of service” that come with those apps. If not, let me cut to the chase. Nothing in those rules provides a privacy standard. If a woman uses an app, her minstrel cycle becomes fodder for the universe. Mood swings, amorous feelings, nausea, it’s available not only to the boyfriend but to aunt Minnie in Texas.
Aunt Minnie probably won’t care about her niece’s monthly cycle, but her employer might. Hints that a woman could be attempting to become pregnant could chill her chances for a promotion. Other folks will also be interested: makers of tampons, ovulation tests and over the counter pain medication. Once algorithms divine the state of a woman’s fallopian tubes, her smart phone is likely to be cluttered with coupons. (Ibid, pg. 21.)
At the moment, no regulations exist to protect an individual from invasive marketing. So, user beware. To keep family planning private, avoid sites like Flo and Glow.