Fertility apps used by Australian consumers have serious privacy flaws, leaving them vulnerable to potential data breaches, according to research from the University of New South Wales. The study analysed privacy policies, messages and settings of 12 of the most popular fertility apps, which are used to track menstrual cycles and emotional states. Data collected by the apps includes personal details, sexual habits, pregnancy test results, whether users have orgasms, whether they use a condom, and data about their health conditions. Many of the apps are also used by children as young as 13. Privacy issues include confusing and misleading privacy messages, lack of user choice in data usage, inadequate de-identification measures when data is shared with other organisations, and retention of data for years after users stop using the apps. Some of the information collected is unnecessary, including details about drinking, smoking, bill payments and housing. The study highlights the need for reform of Australia’s Privacy Act, as the government seeks feedback on potential privacy law reforms until the end of the month.
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