“My sex-related data is more sensitive than my financial data and I want the same level of security and privacy”: User Risk Perceptions and Protective Actions in Female-oriented Technologies

Paper by Maryam Mehrnezhad, and Teresa Almeida: “The digitalization of the reproductive body has engaged myriads of cutting-edge technologies in supporting people to know and tackle their intimate health. Generally understood as female technologies (aka female-oriented technologies or ‘FemTech’), these products and systems collect a wide range of intimate data which are processed, transferred, saved and shared with other parties. In this paper, we explore how the “data-hungry” nature of this industry and the lack of proper safeguarding mechanisms, standards, and regulations for vulnerable data can lead to complex harms or faint agentic potential. We adopted mixed methods in exploring users’ understanding of the security and privacy (SP) of these technologies. Our findings show that while users can speculate the range of harms and risks associated with these technologies, they are not equipped and provided with the technological skills to protect themselves against such risks. We discuss a number of approaches, including participatory threat modelling and SP by design, in the context of this work and conclude that such approaches are critical to protect users in these sensitive systems…(More)”.