The UK’s data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), is launching an investigation into the privacy and security practices of period and fertility tracking applications. This move comes in response to concerns raised by many women regarding the handling of their data by these apps.
The ICO has reached out to app developers for more information and is encouraging users to share their experiences.
A recent poll revealed that over half of women prioritize transparency (59%) and data security (57%) when choosing such apps, with these concerns outweighing factors like cost (55%) and ease of use (55%).
Furthermore, the ICO’s investigation will explore the increase in baby and fertility-related advertisements experienced by over half of the app users. While some view these ads positively, 17% found them distressing. The regulator is particularly interested in addressing issues such as complex and unclear privacy policies, apps requesting or storing excessive amounts of personal data, and users receiving unsolicited targeted ads.
Emily Keaney, Deputy Commissioner of Regulatory Policy at the ICO, emphasized the importance of user feedback in understanding areas for improvement and the benefits these apps offer to women’s health.
In a related development, the ICO issued a warning to developers of connected devices, emphasizing the need for compliance with data protection laws. The statement comes in response to a report by Which? that highlighted excessive data collection practices in the industry.
The ICO stressed the importance of transparency in data collection and usage to maintain trust in these products, indicating its intent to develop guidance on data protection for Internet of Things devices and willingness to take action against non-compliant entities.