Maloney, Krishnamoorthi, and Jacobs Launch Probe of Reproductive Health Data Privacy

Jul 8, 2022
Press Release
Letters to Data Brokers and Health Apps Follow Supreme Court Decision Overturning Roe and Actions by States to Restrict Access to Reproductive Care

Washington, D.C. (July 8, 2022)—Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, and Rep. Sara Jacobs, sent letters to five data broker companies and five personal health application companies requesting information and documents regarding the collection and sale of personal reproductive health data.  Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Members expressed concerns about the potential misuse of this data to invade the privacy of individuals seeking reproductive health care.

 

“The collection of sensitive data could pose serious threats to those seeking reproductive care as well as to providers of such care, not only by facilitating intrusive government surveillance, but also by putting people at risk of harassment, intimidation, and even violence,” the Members wrote.  “Geographic data collected by mobile phones may be used to locate people seeking care at clinics, and search and chat history referring to clinics or medication create digital bread crumbs revealing interest in an abortion.”

 

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court reversed nearly fifty years of legal precedent with its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning the right to an abortion guaranteed in Roe v. Wade.  As of July 3, six states have banned abortion, three have bans currently being litigated, ten plan to institute bans or severe restrictions soon, and the legal status of abortion is threatened in eleven additional states.  Due to this decision, millions of people will lose access or struggle to access abortion services and other forms of reproductive health care.

 

In an era of unprecedented digital surveillance, the distribution of personal health data further threatens the health, safety, and privacy of people and health care providers across the country.  Reproductive health applications, which are known to share information with data brokers and other third parties, have been plagued by data privacy concerns.  A recent study found that 87% of the 23 most popular women’s health apps—including reproductive health apps—shared user data with third parties, yet just over 50% requested consent from their users. 

 

Similarly, data brokers have been found to sell sensitive user location data.  Recent reporting indicates that data brokers have sold mobile phone location data from individuals who have visited health care clinics that provide abortions, leading to concerns about the misuse of private data to target individuals seeking this care. 

 

As Congress considers legislative reforms to ensure the privacy of personal reproductive and sexual health information, the Members requested information and documents regarding data privacy, collection, distribution, use, and sale, by July 21, 2022.

 

Click here to read the letter to SafeGraph.

 

Click here to read the letter to Digital Envoy.

 

Click here to read the letter to Placer.ai.

 

Click here to read the letter to Gravy Analytics.

 

Click here to read the letter to Babel Street.

 

Click here to read the letter to Flo Health, Inc.

 

Click here to read the letter to Glow, Inc.

 

Click here to read the letter to BioWink GmbH.

 

Click here to read the letter to GP International LLC.

 

Click here to read the letter to Digitalchemy Ventures, Inc.

 

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Issues: 
117th Congress