Illinois joins coalition urging Apple to protect consumers’ reproductive health info


Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined a coalition of 10 attorneys general  expressing concerns about reproductive health privacy on Apple’s App Store following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

The coalition has urged Apple to take practical steps to protect consumers’ private reproductive health information.

In a letter sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the coalition called on Apple to protect the personal information of individuals seeking or providing abortion care by implementing privacy-enhancing measures to safeguard data collected by apps hosted on Apple’s App Store.

“As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, millions of Americans now must search for alternative methods of managing their reproductive health or seeking abortion services,” Raoul said. “Women have a right to seek reproductive health care online without worrying that their data might be used against them. I urge Apple to take these commonsense steps to protect women’s private, reproductive health information.”

While Apple has adopted privacy and security measures that are consistent with its stated goals of protecting consumers’ privacy, apps hosted in its store may not meet the same standards or implement appropriate protections for this sensitive data. The coalition said this gap threatens the privacy and safety of App Store consumers.

The letter cites the demonstrated risk that location history, search history and adjacent health data pose to individuals seeking or providing abortions or other reproductive health care. Raoul and the coalition urged Apple to require app developers to either certify to Apple or affirmatively represent in their privacy policies that they will take the following security measures:

  • Delete data not essential for the use of the application, including location history, search history, and any other related data of consumers who may be seeking, accessing or helping to provide reproductive health care.
  • Provide clear and conspicuous notices regarding the potential for app store applications to disclose user data related to reproductive health care, and require that applications disclose this information only when required by a valid subpoena, search warrant or court order.
  • Require app store applications that collect consumers’ reproductive health data or that sync with user health data stored on Apple devices to implement at least the same privacy and security standards as Apple with regard to that data.

The attorneys general explained that deleting data related to reproductive health care is the first line of defense to protect consumers who leave digital trails of their efforts to obtain or provide reproductive health care. The letter also notes that data retention and sharing is often obscured by vague and unclear privacy policies.

The letter also urges Apple to implement a clear process to audit third-party apps’ compliance with Apple’s privacy and security standards. The letter calls on Apple to conduct periodic audits and remove or refuse to list third-party apps in violation of these standards.

Joining Raoul are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.