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Nessel Issues Consumer Alert On Protecting Private Health Data Following The Roe V. Wade Decision

(CBS DETROIT) - Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a new consumer alert with measures residents can take now to protect the personal information that companies get when people sign up for certain services, like phone applications that track fertility and menstrual cycles.

"There are a lot of unknowns as we face a post-Roe era, but one thing that remains certain is that consumers can protect themselves and their private information," Nessel said. "I implore Michigan residents to read the fine print in the user agreements for phone applications and programs because their registration often gives companies the right to sell personal information to other companies. Be aware that your information may be sold to entities for other uses."

In the consumer alert, Nessel explains that when downloading applications that track personal data, individuals should make sure to review the terms and conditions.

People should find out how the application stores their information and who has access to that information.

This is especially important following the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe. V. Wade, because many people that track pregnancy, fertility, or menstrual cycles.

Nessel explains that this is a concern because this health data can show stops and starts for periods, ovulation, and pregnancy, and could be used as evidence if abortion is criminalized.

Here is a list of tips from the Federal Trade Commission on how to protect personal data:

  • Compare options on privacy. When considering a health app, ask some key questions:
    • Why does the app collect information?
    • How does the app share that information – and with whom
    • Then choose the app with the level of privacy preferred.
  • Take care of personal information.
    • Do app settings let the user control the health information the app collects and shares?
    • Is the app up to date?
  • Know the risks.
    • Are the app's services worth risking personal information getting into the wrong hands?
  • Report concerns. Do you think a health app shared personal information without permission?

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