AUSTIN (KXAN) — With the overturn of Roe v. Wade and the imminent Texas abortion “trigger law,” some privacy experts warn that data collected via period tracker apps, internet searches, location history and other data could be used against people who get abortions.

India McKinney, the director of federal affairs at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said these concerns are not new.

“It is only new when it comes to abortion services because the underlying legal landscape has changed all of these things that we’re concerned about now, specifically with abortion and health care services,” McKinney said.

This data can include your browser history, what websites you visited, your IP address location and social media actions. New concerns could include whether an app shows when someone’s last menstrual cycle happened or abortion pill purchases or whether someone searches “abortion clinic” or “how to get an abortion.”

McKinney said reproductive data is “a really lucrative market” because of the industry for supplements, classes and other pregnancy products or services.

“That is information that is super interesting to advertisers, and so what has changed is now that is information that could also be useful to law enforcement,” she said.

Texas’ “trigger law” will take effect 30 days after the U.S. Supreme Court issues its official judgment, which has not happened yet. When it does take effect, the law will prohibit abortions “except under limited circumstances” and will carry at least a $100,000 civil penalty with potential criminal charges.

McKinney said data that is stored in the period tracker or fertility apps should be treated like what you post on Facebook or Instagram because it is equally available to people seeking data.

“Data is not treated special because you’re talking about something that is so personal as to your reproductive cycle. But again, … we’re not more concerned about period trackers than we are about location data.”

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gave new guidance for patient privacy following the overturned abortion decision. This includes information on how federal law protects individuals’ protected health information related to abortions and sexual/reproductive health care and information on how to protect medical information on cell phones and tablets

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) does not protect app users from having their reproductive data shared or sold. Related to period trackers, the HHS office says, “HIPAA Rules generally do not protect the privacy or security of your health information when it is accessed through or stored on your personal cell phones or tablets.”

Apps change their privacy policies

London-based Flo said last week it will create an “anonymous mode” for users to track reproductive health information without identifiable information. This includes names, emails and other identifiers. 

The app already uses data encryption, but the new mode will protect user data further. This means Flo would not be able to connect data to a person. 

“Flo does not share or sell any health data with any other company, but wanted to take this additional step to reassure users who are living in states affected by an abortion ban,” the company said in a statement. 

On Friday, Google said it would delete location entries soon after someone visits a variety of medical facilities, including abortion clinics. This change is not immediately in effect, but Google said it would happen in the coming weeks. 

Google also said it would help users easier control and delete personal data, such as deleting menstruation logs in the Fitbit app. 

Period Tracker by GP apps said on May 19 that the company is “adamantly opposed to government overreach and we believe that a hypothetical situation where the government subpoenas private user data from health apps to convict people for having an abortion is a gross human rights violation.” It added that it would rather close the company than be subject to government overreach and privacy violations. 

App users can use Period Tracker without an online account so that information is only stored on the local device. 

Natural Cycles, a birth control and fertility subscription app, said it is working to make users’ personal data safe

“I can confirm Natural Cycles is in the process of creating a completely anonymous experience for users. The goal is to make it so no one—not even us at Natural Cycles[—]can identify the user,” the company’s co-founder and co-CEO Elina Berglund Scherwitzl said in a Facebook post.

How you can protect your data

The HHS office recommends turning off location services and avoiding giving apps permission to access location data.

McKinney recommends leaving your phone at home and being careful of your searches and website visits. If you do bring your phone with you, turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.