July 17th, 2024

B.C. class action alleges menstruation cycle tracking app breached users’ privacy

By The Canadian Press on March 8, 2024.

A woman checks her phone in Orem, Utah on Nov. 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Rick Bowmer

VANCOUVER – A British Columbia Supreme Court judge says a class-action lawsuit can move forward over alleged privacy breaches against a company that made an app to track users’ menstrual and fertility cycles.

The ruling published online Friday says the action against Flo Health Inc. alleges the company shared users’ highly personal health information with third-parties, including Facebook, Google and other companies.

The ruling says the company’s Flo Health & Period Tracker app is available in more than 100 countries with millions of users around the world, assisting women by tracking “all phases of their reproductive cycle.”

The decision that certifies the class-action says it would cover more than one million users, who added personal information about their menstrual cycles, and other data including their bodily functions and when and how often they had sexual intercourse.

The proposed action covers more than a million Canadians who used the app between June 2016 and February 2019, excluding those in Quebec, where a separate class-action lawsuit was already certified in November 2022.

The lawsuit alleges that Flo Health misused users’ personal information “for its own financial gain,” claiming breach of privacy, breach of confidence and “intrusion upon seclusion.”

The lawsuit was spurred by a U.S. Federal Trade Commission decision where Flo Health admitted it had sent users’ private information about their periods and pregnancies to data analytics divisions of Google, Facebook and two other firms.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lauren Blake agreed to certify the class-action and appoint a representative plaintiff, saying “the ever-increasing modern capacity to capture, store and retrieve information in our digital age has led to a corresponding need for the legal capacity to protect privacy. “

“Privacy legislation has been recognized as being accorded quasi-constitutional status. In a similar manner, privacy torts – such as intrusion upon seclusion and breach of confidence – continue to evolve, and their proper scope in our modern world must continue to be addressed by our courts,” Blake’s ruling says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2024.

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