The woman said companies were being irresponsible with customers' data and added they shouldn't be doing this when there is a baby formula shortage.
A woman who purchased a pregnancy test from Walgreens was shocked when she received baby formula in the mail. She had not purchased or ordered the baby formula and suggested that Walgreens sold her customer data, which was then used by Enfamil, the baby formula brand, to promote its product. The Twitter user (@melancholynsex) who goes by "Nicole" shared images of the promotional package that Enfamil sent her and highlighted why it was incredibly problematic and scary on many levels. She objected to the selling of personal data of customers, especially data on the reproductive health of an individual in a climate where government bodies are planning to police people in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, reported God.DailyDot.
Dear @Walgreens I received this package today a week after purchasing a pregnancy test at your store. I was asked to take the test by my doctor despite having no Fallopian tubes. 1/X pic.twitter.com/EZTsTPf7jd— Nicole (@melancholynsex) July 17, 2022
"Dear @Walgreens, I received this package today a week after purchasing a pregnancy test at your store. I was asked to take the test by my doctor despite having no Fallopian tubes," wrote Nicole on Twitter. Nicole also called out Enfamil for sending out the promotional package when there was a formula shortage and parents were left scrambling for baby formula to feed their children. “THERE IS A FORMULA SHORTAGE, and yet @Enfamil is sending out formula all willy-nilly based on the data you clearly sold them,” wrote Nicole. “Shame on you @Enfamil.” Nicole explained that her data was possibly sold because she used her Walgreens reward card to purchase the pregnancy test. The baby formula package was sent to the address listed on the rewards account.
Second, what if I were desperately trying to get pregnant and can’t? Wouldn’t this be a kick to the face?! 4/X— Nicole (@melancholynsex) July 17, 2022
She also noted that because abortion is now illegal in many states, women purchasing a pregnancy test might feel stressed out to receive unsolicited baby formula, as it contributes to the feeling that women are being watched. She then listed a number of reasons why the promotional offer from Enfamil could have devastating consequences for those receiving it. "What if I were desperately trying to get pregnant and can’t? Wouldn’t this be a kick to the face?!" asked Nicole, before explaining how dangerous this could be for someone who was in an abusive relationship. "Try this one: I’m in an abusive relationship and my partner intercepts this package. Well, now what?!" she asked.
She also asked what the package would mean to people forced to have a baby. "What do you say to the women in states where abortion is now illegal? Are you trying to make a political statement or is this just a big money grab?" asked Nicole, who confirmed that the package was donated to someone in their neighborhood. "I am aware that our data is bought and sold, especially through the use of rewards cards, but this is a lot bigger than sending me a coupon in the mail, so I thought it was worth noting," they concluded.
This should serve as a wakeup call to everyone about how easy it would be to target and criminalize women making private reproductive health purchases.— Miss Freckles (@missfreckles1) July 17, 2022
Nicole's tweet comes at a time when people are deleting any data on their reproductive health. People have been encouraged to delete period tracking apps as their data on menstrual cycles could be used against them to determine if someone had an abortion or not. The discussion highlighted how dangerous privacy violations can be in such times. Nicole pointed out a simple promotional offer could have devastating consequences on someone's life. At least 26 states are likely to ban abortions in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
"We're very concerned in a lot of advocacy spaces about what happens when private corporations or the government can gain access to deeply sensitive data about people's lives and activities," says Lydia X. Z. Brown, a policy counsel with the Privacy and Data Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, reported NPR. "Especially when that data could put people in vulnerable and marginalized communities at risk for actual harm." The White House urged caution about people using period tracker apps earlier this month. "I wouldn't say we're directing people (to stop using the apps), but I think people should be really careful about that," said Jen Klein, co-chair, and executive director of the White House Gender Policy Council, reported CNN.