Roe-Wade ruling prompts Flo ‘Anonymous Mode’

  • September 28, 2022
  • William Payne

Following the US Supreme Court’s overturning of the 1973 Roe vs Wade judgement on abortion, female health app Flo has introduced an ‘Anonymous Mode’ to protect women’s reproductive health data in US states that are criminalising abortion.

The app’s Anonymous Mode allows users to access the app without name, email address, and technical identifiers being associated with the health data in their Anonymous Mode account.

Flo claims it is the first female health app to provide this privacy and security.

The company has partnered with Cloudflare to integrate an Oblivious HTTP system, App Relay Gateway, which ensures that no single party processing user data for Anonymous Mode accounts has complete information on both who the user is and what they are trying to access. 

The app has 48 million active users who use the app for women’s health information including on contraceptive methods and sexual health. Flo’s Anonymous Mode is designed to allow women to access medically credible information without anxiety or concern.

Flo already provides privacy and security to users, including encryption of all data and passcode protection to reduce the risk that unauthorised users access the app on their personal device. The Anonymous Mode takes this further, introducing a deeper layer of privacy for reproductive health data. By using Cloudflare’s App Relay, Flo ensures user privacy on various levels, from logged symptoms on the device through the data transfer over the network to the server side.

“Women’s health information shouldn’t be a liability,” said Cath Everett, VP of Product and Content at Flo. “Every day, our users turn to Flo to gain personal insights about their bodies. Now, more than ever, women deserve to access, track, and gain insight into their personal health information without fearing government prosecution. We hope this milestone will set an example for the industry and inspire companies to raise the bar when it comes to privacy and security principles.”

Once Anonymous Mode is activated, users can not recover data when the device is lost, changed, or stolen and there may be limitations to using the app’s full personalisation benefits. This is why Flo is offering Anonymous Mode as an option for concerned users instead of activating it by default. 

The new Anonymous Mode is localised into 20 languages and can be accessed via the app’s settings in iOS (now available) and Android (to be released in October 2022). Users are able to enjoy all Flo’s health features, with limited exceptions. 

“Recent legislation around women’s health has made Internet privacy a renewed concern with real-world consequences for many people,” said Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO, Cloudflare. “Cloudflare’s App Relay system, based on a privacy-preserving standard championed by Cloudflare, will help Flo’s Anonymous Mode set a new expectation for how companies can protect their users’ health data.”