Drew Harwell reports:
Like millions of women, Diana Diller was a devoted user of the pregnancy-tracking app Ovia, logging in every night to record new details on a screen asking about her bodily functions, sex drive, medications and mood. When she gave birth last spring, she used the app to chart her baby’s first online medical data — including her name, her location and whether there had been any complications — before leaving the hospital’s recovery room.
But someone else was regularly checking in, too: her employer, which paid to gain access to the intimate details of its workers’ personal lives, from their trying-to-conceive months to early motherhood. Diller’s bosses could look up aggregate data on how many workers using Ovia’s fertility, pregnancy and parenting apps had faced high-risk pregnancies or gave birth prematurely; the top medical questions they had researched; and how soon the new moms planned to return to work.
Read more on The Washington Post.
And before you get angry with the employers – although I can certainly understand why you might — let’s remember that the app developers and firms market this to make money – and do:
With more than 10 million users, Ovia’s tracking services are now some of the most downloaded medical apps in America, and the company says it has collected billions of data points into what it calls “one of the largest data sets on women’s health in the world.” Alongside competitors such as Glow, Clue and Flo, the period- and pregnancy-tracking apps have raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors and count tens of millions of users every month.
Corporate wellness programs — programs that give deductions on rates for you sharing driving information or other data with them — are all surveilling you for someone else’s financial benefit. Just remember that. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Or a free app.