Apple women, beware

From Chandra Steele's "If You Have a Uterus, Don’t Buy an Apple Watch" posted Tuesday on PC Mag:

With the Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra, Apple has introduced features designed to help women take charge of their reproductive health. Except in the United States, women are no longer in charge of their reproductive health, and there is a risk that those who now are could get hold of the data from an Apple Watch and use it against women who use these features.

At the Apple Event earlier this month, Apple introduced a feature that it said “takes our commitment to women’s health even further.” The Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra each have two temperature sensors, one on the back and one below the display. Data from these sensors is added to Apple’s existing Cycle Tracking app to indicate and track ovulation. Users can receive notification of possible cycle deviations on their Apple Watch and iPhone.

Additionally, a user can choose to log reproductive health data in the Cycle Tracking app, including sexual activity, ovulation test results, progesterone test results, pregnancy test results, and cervical mucus quality.

Even a fraction of this data could be used to prosecute and jail a woman who terminates a pregnancy in a state that legislates against abortion in the wake of Roe v. Wade being struck down with the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision.

My take: Seems a little far fetched, but I think Steele made her point.

19 Comments

  1. David Emery said:
    I would be extremely surprised if this couldn’t be disabled. (And it should certainly be Opt-In.) Anyone with an Apple Watch care to comment about how this works from a permissions perspective?

    1
    September 21, 2022
  2. Ross Richardson said:
    The problem is fascism, not an Apple Watch.

    9
    September 21, 2022
    • Rodney Avilla said:
      Dictionary.com defines fascism as “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.”

      I’m not a big Biden fan, but that seems a little harsh.

      1
      September 21, 2022
      • Gregg Thurman said:
        I’m not a big Biden fan, but that seems a little harsh.

        Until Trump became president I was a life long Republican. I am now a registered Democrat, not so much because my beliefs have, but because the GOP did.

        I don’t think racist is harsh enough.

        1
        September 21, 2022
        • Gregg Thurman said:
          Describing today’s Republican Party racist and facist can be used interchangeably in my comment above.

          3
          September 21, 2022
  3. Dave Ryder said:
    The blog post on PC World has mostly negative comments, suggesting that Ms. Steele’s opinions are somewhat off the mark. That said, she does raise concerns to think about.

    0
    September 21, 2022
  4. George Ewonus said:
    A few minor points. This is not an issue if you live in Canada, or myriad other countries. As for the title, after menopause you still have a uterus.

    1
    September 21, 2022
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      you still have a uterus.

      My attitude about female reproductive rights is quite simple: one penis no vote.

      0
      September 21, 2022
  5. Greg Lippert said:
    This seems like a huge steamy pile of FUD.

    Is it legally possible for government to demand your private health records securely stored on your device? If so, as citizens, we now live in an authoritarian state.

    And if the health app data is not secure (which I doubt), Apple has a huge problem.

    4
    September 21, 2022
  6. Michael Goldfeder said:
    HIPPA protects against such disclosure of medical records. If she’s so worried about records being obtained by the government, then seek treatment using the standards that were around in the medieval era.

    A click bait article from the inception.

    8
    September 21, 2022
    • Bart Yee said:
      HIPAA applies only to medical personnel and medical entities like hospitals, insurers and record keepers. State governments who ban abortions, not currently the federal government, seem to want pass laws making seeking or obtaining abortion options a crime. I am not a lawyer so treading on slippery ground but seems to me that some state governments and zealous prosecutors might suggest that personal info generated by yourself and stored in your Watch or iPhone is not “medical” information shared with a doctor or medical facility so not HIPAA protected. I suppose if they feel they can seize a lawbreakers’ phone for evaluation of data contained therein to tie to a “crime”, then the same could be done with menstrual data to confirm you missed a period or ovulation, trying to prove you were pregnant, and maybe location data tying you to a service provider which has been deemed illegal.

      Frankly, IMO, if someone was to prosecute groups of women for seeking abortions in ban states, and use search and seizure of phone data to prosecute, the state will run into many and varied constitutional issues on both the abortion and personal information access grounds. Which could turn out to be a big mess at the state courts level.

      0
      September 22, 2022
  7. Steven Philips said:
    The article overlooked so many things that, with its title, made it feel like a paid “political” (fed? sponsored?) ad. Overall, pretty ignorant. A misplaced use of an otherwise valid concern.

    4
    September 21, 2022
  8. Rodney Avilla said:
    And I thought the far right has paranoia problems

    1
    September 21, 2022
    • Gary Gouriluk said:
      Not sure if it’s paranoia, as, in Nebraska, FaceBook messages between a mother and daughter have already used in an investigation of an illegal abortion.

      2
      September 21, 2022
  9. Greg Lippert said:
    Facebook is very different than your health records on your iPhone.

    “ When your device is locked with a passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID, all of your health and fitness data in the Health app — other than your Medical ID — is encrypted and inaccessible by default. Additionally, if you are using iOS 12 or later and turn on two-factor authentication, Apple will not be able to read your health and activity data synced to iCloud.”

    2
    September 21, 2022
  10. Bart Yee said:
    It will be really fun to watch state prosecutors try to compel women to unlock their iPhones or Watches to seize data from same or iCloud accounts. It would also be interesting for states to order or compel Apple for access to same data.

    The kicker would be if states zealously then seek out or pay hackers or NSO-like companies to break into iPhones for prosecution. Didn’t some parties ask for less government intrusion in peoples lives? Just not all peoples?

    0
    September 22, 2022

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