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Cortex - Life Sciences Insights

| 1 minute read

Period and fertility tracking apps: ICO call for evidence

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has issued a survey to help inform its review of how period and fertility tracking apps process their users’ personal information.

As one of the many forms of digital health tech on the market, fertility and period tracking apps are being increasingly turned to by women wanting to plot their menstrual cycles for a number of period-related issues including the best time to conceive (or equally avoid pregnancy). A third of women surveyed by the ICO in its recent poll confirmed they used such apps, which rely on the user providing highly personal and sensitive information.

However, the poll also revealed that over half of the women surveyed had concerns over the security of the data they share and a lack of transparency with how their data is used. Notably, over half of the women also believed they had noticed an increase in baby and fertility-related adverts they received since using the apps. Given the nature of the topic and the sensitivity of the information provided by women to these app providers, such adverts could be distressing to some women who did not know or ask for such data to be used for advertising purposes.

At this stage the ICO is seeking views from both app users and providers of both positive and negative experiences with such apps in a call for evidence, with the aim of enabling women to use the services with confidence.

The survey closes on 5 October 2023.