Low risk: Users can edit or delete data, Some Risks: Users can edit data, High risk: Users cannot edit or delete data
Third Party Sharing (Advertising and Marketing)
Research scientist and privacy expert Razieh Nokhbeh Zaeem calls personally identifiable information “the currency of the internet” because of the different ways individual data is collected, bought and sold across industries. While nearly all websites cooperate with third parties in some way, telehealth companies may not sell or share your information with advertisers—but many do, as evidenced by Betterhelp’s recent settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
Rather than limiting or removing third-party trackers posted on their sites, some providers suggest that users generally opt out of cookie-based advertising in their policies, a strategy that is far from easy.
Low risk: PII is not used for marketing or advertising, Some Risks: PII is used for marketing/advertising, High risk: PII is shared with third parties for marketing/advertising
In post-Deer America, virtual abortion clinics provide an essential service, especially to people living in states that criminalize the treatment. Early indicators have shown they increase access to safe and effective abortion drugs, but they don’t offer as much privacy as users believe. With the exception of Assist Access, all of the providers we analyzed have come a long way from protecting users’ privacy and earning their trust.
To manage risk when approaching these services (and accessing other information about abortion in hostile countries), educators at the Digital Defense Fund recommend reducing your footprint by using a privacy-first search engine such as DuckDuckGo, creating a temporary abortion care email account, and turn off location tracking on all your devices.
While engaging in such defensive tactics is practical, legal scholars like Gilman suggest that the reproductive justice movement will only progress when federal and state governments no longer rely on the outdated “notice and consent” paradigm for data privacy. “We need means approval in the reproductive health space,” said Gilman. “Current privacy policies are more like attachment contracts—suggesting that users ‘take it or leave it.’ It’s not realistic or fair to tell people they can’t use technology if they want to protect their privacy.”
Gilman recommends advocating at the state level for better privacy standards, especially if your representative is considering new legislation. He also encouraged people to demand increased protection from private companies, many of whom prefer “internet currency” than they believe.
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