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Apple urged to protect reproductive health data

Coalition of attorneys general, including in California, seek privacy protection after Roe v. Wade decision

The Apple store in downtown Palo Alto. Embarcadero Media file photo by Sammy Dallal.

Backed by a coalition of 10 other attorneys general, California Attorney General Rob Bonta is urging Apple to protect people's reproductive health information from third-party apps.

In light of Roe v. Wade being overturned, Bonta expressed in a Nov. 21 letter that he's concerned consumers' private health data could be weaponized against them when seeking reproductive care if they come from one of the 14 states that have restricted or banned abortions.

Search histories, location and logged health information could potentially be misused to target people seeking out an abortion, the attorneys general said.

"California leads the nation when it comes to digital privacy and reproductive freedom. We're calling on tech companies like Apple, who call our state home, to lead by example as well. With reproductive rights under attack across the nation, our fight to protect reproductive freedom has never been more crucial. We urge Apple to heed our call and protect their users from attempts to regulate their bodies and curtail their freedom by improving consumer protections for third-party apps in the App Store," Bonta said in a press release.

Apple has previously taken measures to protect user's privacy, such as ensuring all Apple Health data is encrypted. But apps that sync with Apple Health data or independently collect their own health data do not meet the same standards, Bonta alleged.

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The attorneys general are asking Apple to affirm their commitment to protecting consumer privacy with three measures: delete nonessential data for an app's usage, such as search and location history of people seeking reproductive health care; provide notices that third parties can only acquire such data from apps with a valid court order; and that apps with health data have the same privacy and security standards as Apple's other apps.

"These proposed measures would safeguard reproductive health information from being wrongfully exploited by those who would use it to harm pregnant people or providers and are consistent with Apple's professed promises of privacy protection on the App Store," the press release from Bonta's office said.

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Apple urged to protect reproductive health data

Coalition of attorneys general, including in California, seek privacy protection after Roe v. Wade decision

by Olivia Wynkoop / Bay City News Service

Uploaded: Sun, Nov 27, 2022, 7:25 pm

Backed by a coalition of 10 other attorneys general, California Attorney General Rob Bonta is urging Apple to protect people's reproductive health information from third-party apps.

In light of Roe v. Wade being overturned, Bonta expressed in a Nov. 21 letter that he's concerned consumers' private health data could be weaponized against them when seeking reproductive care if they come from one of the 14 states that have restricted or banned abortions.

Search histories, location and logged health information could potentially be misused to target people seeking out an abortion, the attorneys general said.

"California leads the nation when it comes to digital privacy and reproductive freedom. We're calling on tech companies like Apple, who call our state home, to lead by example as well. With reproductive rights under attack across the nation, our fight to protect reproductive freedom has never been more crucial. We urge Apple to heed our call and protect their users from attempts to regulate their bodies and curtail their freedom by improving consumer protections for third-party apps in the App Store," Bonta said in a press release.

Apple has previously taken measures to protect user's privacy, such as ensuring all Apple Health data is encrypted. But apps that sync with Apple Health data or independently collect their own health data do not meet the same standards, Bonta alleged.

The attorneys general are asking Apple to affirm their commitment to protecting consumer privacy with three measures: delete nonessential data for an app's usage, such as search and location history of people seeking reproductive health care; provide notices that third parties can only acquire such data from apps with a valid court order; and that apps with health data have the same privacy and security standards as Apple's other apps.

"These proposed measures would safeguard reproductive health information from being wrongfully exploited by those who would use it to harm pregnant people or providers and are consistent with Apple's professed promises of privacy protection on the App Store," the press release from Bonta's office said.

Comments

MyFeelz
Registered user
JLS Middle School
on Nov 27, 2022 at 9:55 pm
MyFeelz, JLS Middle School
Registered user
on Nov 27, 2022 at 9:55 pm

Anybody who thinks a smartphone is "secure" has mush for brains. As for third party apps that can track you ... if you are using your phone as a GPS system, you invite that monster to travel with you everywhere you go. What's missing from this story is over 500 million users data has been mined from What'sApp by an outside party and is now for sale on the internet right at this very moment. The thing that REALLY sucks people in like lambs being led to slaughter is those health apps that you can use on your smartphone to learn all about your healthcare. There is nothing secure about it. Even if you try to opt out, you still can't opt out from giving the APP all of your health data. It's a cosmic joke. Best idea is throw away the cell phone, restore your landline service, and stay away from a doctor's office. Read a book. Go for a walk. Say hello to your neighbors. Do random kindnesses all day. Get your nose off that little piece of glass.


Lars Johansen
Registered user
Stanford
on Nov 29, 2022 at 9:35 am
Lars Johansen, Stanford
Registered user
on Nov 29, 2022 at 9:35 am

MyFeelz is 100% correct.

Major smartphone operating systems like Apple and Google along with countless downloaded apps are monitoring your very existence in order to sell your personal information to outside vendors. There's big money involved...just ask Google.

There is no such thing as online privacy and the only way to minimalize it is to avoid all social media apps, avoid opening-up questionable email attachments/links, and not accepting webpage cookies when asked.

Disabling the location setting on your iPhone or Android and internet browser history is also a good idea for those concerned about their privacy.






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