"Am I missing something, or are they really being let off with less than a slap on the wrist, and no fines?
Not really sending a great message here, FTC."
Agreed. This is one of the most egregious abuses of privacy imagineable.
For people who haven't used these kinds of apps, Flo includes day-by-day tracking of:
- sex and sex drive
- didn't have sex
- protected sex
- unprotected sex
- high sex drive
- obsessive thoughts
- very self-critical
- symptoms (cramps, tender breasts, acne, many more)
- vaginal discharge (none, spotting, sticky, eggwhite, etc, "unusual")
- other (travel, stress, disease/injury, alcohol)
There's also a lot of things here that are maybe legally dangerous to be disclosing outside of a doctor-patient context (the last several "mood" items).
This is abhorrent.
It would be inconsistent to punish this little app severely when we don't care about much more egregious violations. It's tragic that we're only able to care about small things that fit into our tiny laser beam of public outrage.
it is the usual thing where the powerful we say “best we could do” but for the weak we find a way to get them in jail if we don’t like them
no you dont
The data is all client-side encrypted, so she doesn't collect any sensitive user data that could be sold or abused.
I've never used it, but I think the privacy-first mission is cool.
It's scary how many people don't immediately go for the open source alternative before checking the Google play store. Most people publishing on f-droid use their real name, have verifiable open source activity, have a professional reputation to maintain and have their apps open to world to be scrutinised.
Checking F-Droid should be your first choice everytime.
I fail to see how an app being on F-Droid inherently mean it’s going to be privacy-friendly.
That said basically everything benefits from the sun shining in on it. F-Droid alerts you to anything dodgy under the hood, has reproducible builds and in general has none of the complete shitshow that is playstore.
In my 5EYES country Google's playstore has to secretly insert malware if the government wants it and there's no way for the end user to tell if that's the case.
Tell me a common use for a mobile app and we can compare what is available on both play store and f-droid.
“ FertilityFriend.com is fully funded by its VIP service fees and has been so since we started. It does not rely on any type of data trading for any of its funding or any other purpose. In other words, you are not the product. Clear and straightforward, our charting service is what we sell and nothing else.”
They also have a more data driven approach to fertility than most other sources.
Screenshots feature a modern looking UI.
I work with alternative data for investors, mostly consumer spend behavior - things like point of sale transactions and online cart contents. These have value in that you can correlate panel behaviors with a company's revenue or identify trends in the market.
But, for data like ovulation schedules or events like pregnancy, it seems that it's a lot of work (and based on the FTC ethically questionable) to see one-off events or target specific consumers a small set of products.
I must be looking at the available opportunities with some kind of blind spot, because I don't get why companies would pay for this sort of data.
Not only just for the huge amount of money people will spend on baby stuff, sorting out cribs, but then eighteen years perfectly time-able marketing for birthdays, different stages of development, loans, different cars, houses, college loans, It is probably the most valuable single even about someone from an advertising perspective and whoever can get in first is out to make bank.
How valuable do you think it to build relationship with, track the preferences of, and pick a the perfect adverts and products to show a person who has purchasing power for someone for eighteen solid years? With 100% certainty of what they are going to need unless something tragic happens.
Also knowing that based on the socioeconomic status whether they will be pressed for time and desperate for discounts, or be flush enough that they can afford to give their sprogg the most expensive things they will grow out of.
That said, it still seems like a vector that's really problematic compared to gain. My personal anecdote is that my kids both only used Pampers Swaddlers diapers, simply because that's what the hospital gave us as we left - that is what I would see as a brilliant marketing partnership for P&G without risks of invasive perceptions.
Did I said it already that advertising is a cancer on modern society?
People's behavior (women and men) depend a lot on hormones.
Big big data you can identify lots of useful patterns of behavior and you could control those.
Facebook and Google have no semantic understanding of this data, so it does not have inherent value to them in terms of creating configurable targeting segments. These are arbitrary data points sent by the app, and they might as well be labeled "A", "B", "C", and "D" rather than their sensitive names.
Flo can optimize their ads towards occurrences of event "A" or they can run ads towards "people who have triggered event B in the last week but not event C", but this doesn't offer specific value to other advertisers or FB/G themselves.
That said, when all of this is put into an ML black box, you never know how data points may be correlated. Maybe the system learns that people who trigger event "D" also end up buying baby clothes. That could lead to observable ad patterns, even if no one can explicitly tie event "D" to pregnancy.
Knowing when someone is pregnant or trying to get pregnant seem like premium moments. Lots of money in fertility treatments and related services. Lots more money in maternity products and new baby products.
I've read some peer reviewed research as well but most of that is focused on outcomes and genetic testing of IVF embryos rather than natural fertilization. I get the impression that fertility isn't something that's well-studied outside of really generic health indicators like weight and age. And a lot of fertility information seems to focus on ages 20 to 35. They seem to assume that after that age you've given up on starting a family or that you already have one.
"Is your pregnancy app sharing your intimate data with your boss? As apps to help moms monitor their health proliferate, employers and insurers pay to keep tabs on the vast and valuable data"
Leaked SSN and DoB data, rouge code was on there for a month before they found it.
Edit: it's a different breach of a different fertility related company.
Finally data-breaches are sexy ;)
You cant create a campaign targeting is_menstruating=true so how are these opaque key value pairs making them money?
Not really sending a great message here, FTC.