Flo’s anonymous mode has arrived. The rules follower promised to launch the new mode soon after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, in an effort to allay privacy concerns. Activists and privacy advocates have shed light on period-tracking apps in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, warning users that the data they collect could be used for investigations into people seeking abortion services. They urged users to remove these apps, especially if they live in states where abortion is now banned.
The new anonymous mode allows people to use Flo without having to enter a name, email address or any other type of identifier. Flo has partnered with Cloudflare, the same company Apple worked with for iCloud Private Passthrough, to ensure it can give users “as much privacy as possible”. The company clarified that it does not sell identifiable health data but wants to make the mode available “to reassure users who live in states affected by an abortion ban.”
An anonymous mode is certainly welcome, especially for those who remember Flo’s patchy history when it comes to privacy. Back in 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that it shared sensitive user data, including information about whether someone was trying to get pregnant, with Facebook, Google and other third-party apps.
Since any information passed to the app while anonymous will not be linked to an ID, it will completely disappear if the device is lost. It also cannot be transferred to a new device and only essential data, such as cycles and symptoms, can be copied to a new account. Users can also designate a passcode for an additional layer of protection, although they lose access to their information altogether if they forget it. In other words, it can be quite easy to lose access to data in anonymous mode, which is why users should actively choose to enable it.
The period tracker’s anonymous mode is now available for iOS users and will be available on Android devices in October.
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