In a post-Roe world, privacy is paramount when it comes to reproductive health. Ibis Reproductive Health has developed an app called Euki that may become more important than ever for private access to reproductive health information.
Euki (short for eucalyptus, a plant known for its soothing properties) was released in 2019 after extensive research of other reproductive health apps and collaboration with the organization Women Help Women to determine the needs of users. The biggest concern? Ensuring the app's data is customizable and private to users.
"[Euki] is the first app of its kind to provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, including abortion, in a secure and private environment with no back-end data collection," according to Ibis' vice president for research, Caitlin Gerdts.
Their research also determined that most apps in this space are very feminine-centric, including the use of the color pink, and a primary focus on period-tracking. With that data in mind, Euki is not only a period tracker but has comprehensive resources for other reproductive health issues like abortion, miscarriage, sexually-transmitted infections and contraception. It also features a more gender-neutral design to address the needs of people of different genders or who are non-binary.
"People wanted to see themselves in an app like this," Gerdts said. "They wanted to trust it." She added that most people don't trust tech companies to keep their information safe. She said there's always been a concern about increased surveillance and over-policing. In a recent case, a Nebraska woman's Facebook direct messages about abortion were used to charge her with a felony.
To create a sense of trust, the app developers included customizable features like being able to change the names of the icons on the interface, automatic data deletion and password protection. In case someone demands to see the app, a person can use a fake password that will show a false screen. The app wasn't intended to create a revenue stream, so the app is free to use and data isn't stored outside of the native app or sold.
Since the May 2022 leaked Supreme Court document which indicated that Roe v. Wade would be overturned, usage of the app has increased exponentially, according to Gerdts. But even before this decision, Ibis understood the necessity of an app of this kind.
"Access to abortion services is essential, and always has been a critical part of human rights and bodily autonomy," Gerdts said. "And for so many communities, especially historically marginalized communities, Roe had never been enough as it was."
There are some cons to using an app like this. First of all, Euki is not a healthcare service provider and is not subject to privacy laws like HIPAA. It's a repository of information about reproductive and sexual health resources. These resources all have different privacy policies and may not keep your data private.
Second, there's always a danger to downloading apps to track private information on your phone. Someone can steal the phone and crack the password. Also, depending on your phone's settings, you may have to download a third-party app to be able to change the name of the primary app itself from "Euki" to something else. A Google search of the name or icon can easily lead to more information about the app itself.
Despite these inherent privacy concerns, Gerdts is hopeful that this app will encourage more people to get the help they need from a trustworthy source.
Gerdts said, "As people are becoming more aware of the potential dangers of a digital footprint in this post-Roe era, we're really hopeful that Euki can be a tool for people to get to know what's going on with their bodies, track what's going on with them in a secure place, and also get the information that they need."
Williesha Morris has been a journalist and freelancer off-and-on for over a decade. When she's not writing, she's playing video games or waxing nostalgic for the first few phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You can read more from *Privacy Not Included here.