A user of the popular fertility tracking application Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker (Flo App) has filed suit against Flo Health, Inc. for violations of state and federal privacy laws. The user claimed that though the company assured users that it would not share their intimate health data, in actuality, Flo Health repeatedly disclosed users’ information to third-parties, including Facebook and Google.
Last week’s complaint comes on the heels of a settlement Flo Health reached with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over allegations that the defendant made a variety of fraudulent misrepresentations to Flo App users in violation of their privacy rights. The settlement requires the company to reform its practices. For example, an independent reviewer must now approve its data privacy practices and the company must obtain user consent before sharing users’ health information.
The private action explains that in 2015, a group of mobile app developers based in Minsk, Belarus started Flo Health. The company launched its first iteration of the Flo App the same year using artificial intelligence to accurately predict reproductive cycles, the filing states. Reportedly, the team expanded the app’s features over the years to provide “advice and assistance related to women’s health, such as by serving as an ovulation calendar, period tracker, pregnancy guide, and wellness and lifestyle tracker.”
As of December 2020, the complaint contends, the Flo App had been downloaded by 150 million users. Through its success, the plaintiff asserts, Flo Health obtained those users’ intimate health information, which it repeatedly promised never to share. However, in February 2019, the Wall Street Journal published a report revealing that, despite the company’s assurances, it had “spent years disclosing the intimate health data that users entered into the Flo App to dozens of third parties, including major advertising companies such as Facebook, Inc. and Google, LLC, who were free to use this data for their own purposes.”
The filing claims that had the plaintiff and putative class members known that Flo Health would share their highly personal health and sexual activity information, they would not have used the app. The plaintiff has brought eight federal and state claims for relief including for breach of contract, invasion of privacy and claims under the federal Stored Communications Act and the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act.
The complaint seeks to certify a nationwide class of people who used the Flo App any time since June 2016. The plaintiff asks for declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory, punitive, and other damages, her attorneys’ fees and costs, and any other relief the court deems appropriate.