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House Opens Investigation Into Reproductive Health Data Privacy

A House committee is opening an investigation into how companies, mainly smartphone health apps, are handling reproductive data, The Hill reports. The House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) and Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) sent letters to companies and data brokers, expressing their concerns. These letters were seeking information on the potential misuse of private information to prosecute those pursuing abortions. The letter said that the distribution of health information threatens the privacy and safety of those seeking health care.


The letter added that geographic data collected by a mobile phone could be used to locate people seeking health care at a clinic. Data could also look at search history and private messages to incriminate those searching for abortion access. The letter also addressed data “bounty hunters” who have been authorized, in some states, to sue anyone providing or seeking abortions by buying location data from data brokers. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, concerns arose over whether period and ovulation tracking apps could be used to find and prosecute people seeking abortions. One period tracking app, “Flo,” announced that they would launch an “anonymous mode” where users could remove all identifying information from the app.