Is Your Data Really Safe?

Is Your Data Really Safe?

Period-tracking app Stardust claims that all its data is end-to-end encrypted, but does that mean users’ personal information is really safe?

Period-tracking app Stardust claims that all its data is end-to-end encrypted, but does that mean users’ personal information is really safe with the app? Stardust is an astrology-based menstrual cycle-tracking app that debuted on Apple’s App Store last year. It became the most downloaded app on iPhones in late June after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, ending the Constitutional right to an abortion and instantly making abortion care illegal in more than a dozen states.

Following the fall of Roe v. Wade, many people are wondering whether their period-tracking data could be used against them in court if they were to seek an abortion in the states where it is now illegal. Concerned about their privacy, hordes of women on social media say that they are either deleting period-tracking apps from their phones or are seriously considering doing so. This is where Stardust caught the attention of many users with its promise of end-to-end encryption and rose to the top of the download list on the App Store.

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In a press release in late June, Stardust said it would implement end-to-end encryption from June 29, so it would not be able to hand over personal user data to the government even if it’s asked to do so. In an Instagram reel,┬áStardust founder and CEO Rachel Moranis further claimed that the company had spent more than a month developing end-to-end encryption for the app. This was possibly in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s verdict following the publication of the leaked draft of the court’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Stardust’s Controversial Privacy Policy

Stardust period tracker

Despite Stardust’s claims to honor user privacy, TechCrunch found that the app’s current version has been sharing users’ phone numbers with a third-party analytics company. The revelation raised concerns that the data could be used to positively identify users, which might create privacy issues and legal concerns for those seeking abortion care in some states. The report further claims that Stardust removed all references to end-to-end encryption from its privacy policy after the publication reached out to the company for more information about the matter.

Even more alarmingly, a report from Vice’s Motherboard claims that the original privacy policy stated that Stardust would comply with the law enforcement’s requests for user data “whether or not legally required.” However, once Motherboard started inquiring about the policy, the company deleted that phrase and stated that it would only cooperate with law enforcement “when legally required.” However, the policy continues to state that Stardust may share anonymized user data with third parties under some circumstances. Users will have to wait and see if its policy is updated once the end-to-end encryption goes into effect on June 29.

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Source: Stardust, Stardust/Instagram, TechCrunch, Motherboard

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