A number of states in the US have restricted access to abortions, sparking fears they might pursue legal action and even tap the phones of women seeking the procedure. Paul Buchanan is a former US government intelligence consultant who now works as a security analyst in New Zealand. He said now that some US states have criminalised abortion, they can demand private information from software providers to prosecute. "[They] can legally demand software providers, like these period tracking applications, that they provide the metadata." US-based period tracker app ‘Flo’ previously sold data to Facebook for advertising purposes and there’s concern now the information could be sold to law enforcement. <a href="https://www.1news.co.nz/2022/06/29/roe-v-wade-surge-in-americans-visiting-nz-immigration-sites/" target="_blank"><b>READ MORE: Roe v Wade: Surge in Americans visiting NZ immigration sites</b></a> A US security researcher Cooper Quintin told 1News he's concerned because conservative states “have already shown a willingness to use data generated online” to prosecute people seeking abortions. Quintin runs a non-profit digital rights group, Electronic Frontier Foundation. They’ve been providing advice for people concerned about their privacy rights and giving advice to private businesses and tech companies on how they can protect the data of their customers and users. Right now, in the US there are widespread fears that messages, emails, Google searches, location tags and even supermarket loyalty cards can be used as evidence and upheld in a US court. One medical professional said it’s not a hypothetical fear. Such prosecutions have happened before. "Complications of pregnancy, miscarriages, women charged with self-aborting, it’s been happening here, it’s not fiction, it’s not a TV show," said Dr Gabrielle Goodrick, the medical director for Camelback Family Planning in Arizona. "There are real fears and many of the people in power in these states… they’re going to be prosecuting and they’re going to be going after these people." Women’s health clinics like hers are at risk. Following Friday's decision, she was forced to turn away more than 40 people who had scheduled abortion procedures. "We cannot procure an abortion, so you can’t refer someone because that could mean procuring an abortion or helping a patient, so our hands are completely tied right now. "People are going to suffer, people will die, people won’t get the medical care that they need," Goodrick said. Facebook and Instagram have also banned posts showing how to get an abortion pill online in states where it’s now criminalised. The wider issue is raising questions among period app users here. According to Buchanan, every time you open your phone you’re giving data away. In the US, different states can decide how they use this data, and with abortion being a criminal act in some, they will have greater power to use such surveillance tactics. But, according to Buchanan, New Zealand has "a much more robust privacy culture and more importantly our law enforcement agencies". "The New Zealand Police, in particular, would only take up this sort of bulk collection data mining effort if there was a national security threat involved." "If there’s a national threat there are provisions for warrantless searches." "Our intelligence and security acts have both been modified to give more power" to surveillance and data mining but Buchanan says "we’ve been given reassurances that police intelligence will not do this" for criminal investigations. But he has a warning for New Zealand women. If you’re using a period tracker app, do not use one that originates in the USA, and read the terms and conditions. Buchanan said questions are being raised to tech companies as to where they sit in what’s being labelled a "war against women," and whether they're taking steps needed to protect the privacy of US users. "Last time that abortion was illegal in [the] US we didn't have this massive digital surveillance apparatus that we do now, and so it’s a much different situation,” Quintin said. While he said many may agree with the use of mass surveillance and data mining for the purpose of national security, he’s warning that those outside the US must not become complacent. "This surveillance apparatus is eventually going to be used for things you don’t agree with."