Flo further strengthens award-winning Anonymous Mode by adding post-quantum cryptography, offering long-term security of sensitive health information
London, June 28, 2023 – Flo Health, the most popular women’s health app globally with 50 million monthly active users, is open-sourcing the technology behind its award-winning Anonymous Mode feature, sharing a part of its intellectual property (IP) with the global femtech ecosystem and beyond. The launch coincides with the one-year anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s move to overturn Roe v. Wade, a decision that changed the way many women think about sharing personal data and reinforced health apps’ responsibility to actively protect sensitive health information. Beyond this, Flo has integrated an even deeper layer of privacy protection into its already existing Anonymous Mode. The company has added post-quantum cryptography, further safeguarding sensitive health information from potential security risks posed by quantum computers.
Flo’s Anonymous Mode has set a new standard for the industry at large. Built with internet infrastructure company Cloudflare as a direct response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Anonymous Mode protects sensitive health information by allowing users to still benefit from the app without their name, email address, or technical identifiers being associated with the health data in their Anonymous Mode account. The feature integrates the Oblivious HTTP (OHTTP) protocol, which sets a new data privacy standard for the internet at large. The protocol ensures that no single party processing user data for Anonymous Mode accounts has complete information on both who the user is and what they are trying to access. Flo’s Anonymous Mode has since won the 2022 IAPP Privacy Innovation Award and has been listed as a finalist in Fast Company’s 2023 World Changing Ideas Awards in the Rapid Response category.
Sue Khan, vice president of privacy and data protection officer at Flo Health, commented: “We firmly believe that every woman deserves the right to track their health without concern. If you’re using a period tracker, check whether you have a way of using the app anonymously. If you don’t, either insist that they adopt Anonymous Mode or choose another provider. It is the responsibility of every women’s health product to commit to high privacy and security standards, and by open-sourcing Anonymous Mode and giving away part of our IP, we are democratizing access across the industry.”
This launch marks Flo’s first open-source project within the privacy domain. Now more than ever, individuals need technical yet simple solutions to protect their rights, freedoms, and privacy. The launch comes at a time when health literacy is astonishingly low, as uncovered by Flo’s health literacy report, Failed foundations: The women’s health crisis in America. The research reveals that 58% of women don’t know what a normal menstrual cycle is, and 63% of women aged 18 to 24 say they learned more about women’s health from social media than they did in school. Flo is actively meeting this need by open-sourcing OHTTP to the femtech industry and beyond, as well as driving innovation internally and building upon its award-winning Anonymous Mode feature.
“Open-sourcing the technology behind Anonymous Mode is our contribution to the broader industry’s privacy measures, as we firmly believe that OHTTP is quickly becoming the new industry standard. Building Anonymous Mode was both expensive and time consuming, and we know that not every female health app has the resources to follow suit,” Roman Bugaev, chief technology officer at Flo Health, added. “Internally, our users’ privacy and security remain our top priority. In addition to collaborating with our external Privacy and Security Advisory Board, we’re in the process of attaining an ISO privacy certification, which complements our already existing ISO security certification. The recent addition of post-quantum cryptography to Anonymous Mode is also a very exciting step forward, as it ensures all sensitive health information remains secure in the face of future advancements in quantum computing technology. But we’re not stopping there, as we look forward to continuing to iterate on our Anonymous Mode feature.”
Emily Hancock, chief privacy officer at Cloudflare and a member of Flo’s Privacy and Security Advisory Board, concluded: “What Flo built — in record time — is a huge achievement. We believe this is game-changing technology for how companies approach data privacy and is without a doubt an incredibly positive step towards making the internet safer as a whole. Cloudflare has already heard from multiple companies interested in implementing this technology for themselves, so we plan on working with them to make it happen. In the meantime, our partnership with Flo Health continues as we support them through the next iteration of Anonymous Mode.”
OHTTP is now available to all for free via GitHub, enabling any company with a solution compatible with this standard to use Flo’s open-source libraries for iOS and Android. To access OHTTP open source, visit our GitHub profile. For more information, visit our FAQ page.