It has been reported that a fertility app that helps women monitor their cycles when planning to become pregnant has been sharing user data with several Chinese companies. This seems to be like intruding into the user’s personal life.
The International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC), a nonprofit consumer privacy watchdog, said its research found that the Android version of Premom app was sharing data with three Chinese analytics firms, including unique gadget identifiers that could support them follow users’ activities across other apps and websites.
IDAC identified that Premom has three Chinese partners – Jiguang, Umeng, and UMSNS. Umeng, is owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. The Beijing-based startup Umeng provides mobile app analytics solutions to developers in China. Jiguang’s profile says that it provides its clients with user activity analysis, precision marketing, and financial risk.
Jigunag’s access was cut off on August 6 after IDAC contacted the company, while Umeng and UMSNS had access until June 19. One of the big concerns is that Jiguang was transmitting data using customized encryption, similar to what TikTok was doing before it got caught in November 2019.
According to IDAC, the Premom app also shared data with the two other Chinese companies through at least mid-June.
IDAC even wrote to the FTC, Google, and the attorney general of Illinois, where Premom is based, earlier this month.
Users usually have no way to opt-out of the tracking and are not even aware that this is even happening. IDAC says the practice could violate state and federal law. It’s a violation of Google’s rules also.
It really does not matter if Premom operates its own business with a strong set of privacy restrictions. Once the firm sells data, it has no control over how that information will be used, aggregated, or sold thereafter.
For instance, the geographical data on the location of women who want to get pregnant can be easily combined with Google Maps to de-anonymize the information. It can also be used for generic type of advertising.
Premom is not the only pregnancy app firm to engage in this kind of behavior. Consumer Reports have found five top period tracking apps that share data with advertisers. Ovia shares data with employers and insurance companies as part of wellness programs. Applications like BabyCentre, Clue, Flo, and My Calender also sell personal user data to third parties.