Shadows on personal data

Photo by Taylor Vick on Unsplash

I have written quite a bit about the relevance of our personal data and how we should try to protect that information from abuse.

We should be aware of what information we are sharing and with whom. It may not be enough because the relevance of the data we share may change over time depending on where we live and on evolution or, better, the involution of the legislative ecosystem.

A few weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade_decision. It is not my intention to comment on this decision. That is not the point I want to address in this post.

After the decision, many women have started to question how the personal data of their period tracking application is treated and if it may be used to enforce the abortion ban.

If you are tracking your period, it will be pretty easy to track down a potential abortion procedure. Law enforcement agencies may use the period tracking application data as evidence.

First thing first. Period data is definitely personal data and very sensitive data. Rather, every user should be aware of how these companies deal with this data and ensure there will be no abuse. Before the Supreme Court, that would be the only concern, even if it is still a big concern.

After the Supreme Court decision, that data has become more relevant. As I said, it may be used to track down what will be considered an illegal activity in some states.

Data that may be considered not harmful has definitely become harmful after a change in the legislative panorama.

Everything we share online has a clear meaning, tracking period in our example, but we must remember that most data has a shadow meaning, the proof of an abortion.

This is extremely important and often completely misunderstood when we share our personal data online. People already have problems understanding what they share and how that data will be used. Shadow information is much more subtle to understand.

There is not enough digital culture to address this problem.

The value of personal data is not immutable over time.

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