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Menstrual Data Leaks: The Dark Side of Digital Health

Updated: Jul 6


What happens when your menstrual data is leaked?

It's not just an invasion of privacy—it's a fundamental breach of trust that can have serious consequences.


At Sanza, we take this threat very seriously. Despite pressure from financial backers who see dollar signs where we see human dignity, we refuse to become a data mining operation.


Here's what happens when menstrual data is compromised and how to prevent these breaches.


Flo Health Inc.: Flo, a widely used period and fertility tracking app, was caught sharing users' sensitive health data with third-party analytics and marketing firms like Facebook and Google.

Despite assurances of privacy, Flo included software development kits (SDKs) that transmitted user data without proper consent, leading to legal action by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This scandal highlights the need for transparency and explicit user consent in handling sensitive health information.






Clue App: Clue has been more privacy-conscious, explicitly stating that it doesn't share user data with third parties for advertising purposes. However, any app handling sensitive health data must maintain rigorous security standards to protect against potential breaches.










When sensitive menstrual data is leaked, it can lead to severe privacy violations. Users may feel outraged, victimized, and violated, as seen in the Flo Health case. This loss of trust can be catastrophic for a company's reputation and user base.


Leaked health data can be used to discriminate against individuals in various ways. Employers or insurance companies could use this data to make decisions that unfairly impact users based on their menstrual health information.


Using sensitive health data for targeted marketing can feel intrusive and exploitative. Users might receive advertisements for products related to their health conditions, which can be uncomfortable and unwanted.




Ethical Data Sharing and GDPR Compliance


Businesses must obtain user consent before sharing their data. This involves communicating what data will be shared, with whom, and for what purposes. Companies should also provide easy-to-understand privacy policies and regular updates to keep users informed.


Businesses should anonymize and aggregate data to protect user privacy before sharing it. Anonymization involves removing personally identifiable information (PII), while aggregation combines data from many users to provide broader insights without exposing individual details.


Strong security protocols, such as encryption and access controls, are essential to protect data from unauthorized access and breaches. Regular security audits and updates help maintain these protections over time.


Adhering to regulations like the GDPR is crucial for legal compliance and user trust. GDPR mandates that businesses have a lawful basis for processing data, ensure data accuracy, and provide users with rights to access, rectify, and erase their data.




The Risks of Anonymous Data Sharing


Even anonymized data can pose risks if not handled properly. Here are some potential issues:


Sophisticated techniques can sometimes re-identify individuals from anonymized datasets, especially when combined with other data sources. This risk underscores the need for thorough anonymization processes and caution in data sharing.


Anonymous data can still be used to make inferences and profiles about specific groups, potentially leading to discrimination or other negative consequences.


For example, menstrual data might be used to make assumptions about a person's health status or lifestyle choices.


At Sanza, we prioritize your privacy and data security above all else. We refuse to bow to pressure from financial backers to leverage your data for profit.




We are not naive; we are principled.


Our commitment is to protect your data and use it only in ways that benefit you.


We are building a platform that respects your privacy and values your trust.


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