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Tech Companies Working On Contraception Face A New Landscape After Roe

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The Lowdown, founded in 2019, is a platform for reviews and advice where users discuss side effects and benefits of different types of contraception, and it connects users with medical consultations and prescriptions for birth control. Users can participate in surveys and leave reviews, which the Lowdown uses along with medical professionals to provide medically vetted information. Founder Alice Pelton said they have seen a 60% increase in US-based users since the beginning of May. “I can only attribute this to the Roe v. Wade leak in early May,” Pelton said in an email. After the Dobbs decision in July, and US users surged again. Before Roe was overturned, the company was already discussing adding reviews of abortion experiences, and it says it will likely add them later this year.

Natural Cycles and Clue are both fertility awareness methods, and both therefore recommend using additional contraception like condoms on high-risk days. However, they are buoyed by algorithms and data that should make them more effective for the typical user than just tracking a period on a calendar would be. For instance, Natural Cycles also considers the user’s basal body temperature, which is one indicator of fertility. As of Aug. 2, users can also measure their temperature with the Oura ring.

Apple also recently announced its new Apple Watch Series 8 will be able to track temperature changes that can indicate ovulation — though Apple says these ovulation windows will be retrospective, and the feature is not FDA approved to use as contraception. Apple’s data will be encrypted and stored on the devices themselves, making it more secure than apps that share or sell data. This could be more appealing for users who are worried about period- and ovulation-tracking data being shared with law enforcement.

Natural Cycles, which is currently the only FDA-approved fertility tracking and birth control app on the market claims its effectiveness with typical use is 93%, and Clue says theirs is 92%. However, in the past few years, users of Natural Cycles raised questions about its effectiveness after they got pregnant while using the app. (In 2018, the Swedish Medical Products Agency found that the app’s failure rate was in line with the company’s effectiveness rate, but it asked Natural Cycles to make the risks of pregnancy clearer, which it did.)

Natural Cycles also shares anonymized data with researchers for clinical studies with user consent. Their on-staff research teams work with researchers from institutions, who must sign a data privacy agreement. When Clue sends data to researchers, it is anonymized as well, so no data point can be traced back to an individual person.

However, the security of these datasets is the subject of a lot of scrutiny and concern as states move to criminalize birth control and abortion. Users are afraid that information about their cycles could be shared with law enforcement. This data could, for example, become evidence of a pregnancy that ended. “Women’s health as a whole has been stigmatized. But now there’s a potential for it, not only to be stigmatized, but criminalized, so that creates a huge problem in terms of are users going to trust these tech companies with their data. And are companies going to be as interested to get into this space,” Oriana Kraft, Founder of the FemTechnology Summit said.

The Lowdown, Clue, and Natural Cycles are based in the EU and therefore follow the strictest privacy and security law in the world, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This means that the companies don’t have to respond to a subpoena or request from US law enforcement to turn over data, even if the user is based in the US. Users are covered by this law regardless of where they live. When the Dobbs decision was leaked in May, Natural Cycles also began working on developing an anonymous mode. In this mode, the company itself wouldn’t even be able to identify the user.

The Lowdown makes money by selling consultations to doctors and prescriptions, along with selling products to help people with symptoms and side effects. It doesn’t track people’s cycles and doesn’t sell data from its reviews, and while users have to sign up with an email address, they can create an anonymous account that doesn’t use their name. Clue and Natural Cycles also said they don’t sell their users’ data and instead make money through subscriptions. Elina Berglund, the cofounder and CEO of Natural Cycles, said the company is also working with its legal team on how to keep its data safe. “It’s a new area to navigate, and laws are still changing. So, we want to be on top of it also from the legal side,” she said.

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The era of constant innovation at Amazon could be over • TechCrunch

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There was a time when AWS re:Invent, the yearly customer extravaganza put on by Amazon’s cloud arm, was chock full of announcements. The innovation coming out of the company was so mind-boggling that it was hard to keep up with the onslaught of news.

But this year felt different. If last year was incremental, this year was downright slow when it came to meaningful news.

To give you a sense of our coverage here at TechCrunch, last year, we wrote 28 stories about the event. This year, it’s down to 18, including this one. It’s not that we wanted to write less — we just simply found there was less relevant news to write about.

The day two AI and machine learning keynote was all incremental improvements to existing products. There were so few meaningful announcements that my colleague Frederic Lardinois wrote a post in pictures mocking the lack of news.

It’s gotten to the point, it seems, where the ecosystem has grown so enormous, and there are so many products, that the company has decided to focus on making it easier to work with and between those products (or with external partner products) than creating stuff from scratch.

From a news perspective, that means that there’s really less to write about. Eight new SageMaker capabilities or five new database and analytics capabilities, which I’m sure are important to the folks who needed those features, feel like piling on to an already feature-rich set of products.

It’s not unlike Microsoft Word over the years: It’s a perfectly fine word processor, so the only way to really improve it was to lob on new feature after new feature to make it relevant to an ever wider or more granular audience.

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‘Absolutely Shocking’: Fox News Contributor Reacts To ‘Coordinated Effort’ By Former Twitter Execs

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A Fox News contributor called the released Twitter documents revealing the social media site’s censorship of a report on Hunter Biden’s laptop “absolutely shocking” Friday.

“It’s absolutely stunning. It’s absolutely shocking to – with what has come out so far with Matt Taibbi’s tweets showing just how much – just what a concerted effort it was behind the scenes in order to help one party over another party,” Charlie Hurt, the opinion editor at the Washington Times, told host Jesse Watters. “And it underscores the extraordinary danger of the kind of power that these people have and they have no reservation whatsoever about using it.” (RELATED: Elon Musk Says Releasing Internal Discussions On Hunter Biden Laptop Story Is ‘Necessary To Restore Public Trust’)

WATCH:

Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi released details about the censorship of an Oct. 14, 2020 report on a laptop Hunter Biden left at a repair store Friday on his Twitter account. The laptop reportedly contained numerous emails and documents detailing the elder Biden’s involvement with his son’s business partners.

Social media companies censored the New York Post’s reports on the laptop, claiming the materials were hacked. The laptop was later confirmed as authentic by the Washington Post and New York Times.

“Let’s step back what we saw with the censoring of that ‘New York Post’ story was an effort by Twitter, companies to trick voters into voting for Joe Biden by suppressing this story,” Hurt said. “And it is absolutely shocking and they literally put this sequestered this story as if it were child pornography. That’s the way they treat it. That’s how desperately they wanted to help Joe Biden get elected.”

Twitter and President Joe Biden did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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Looks like sex tech startup Lora DiCarlo is done for • TechCrunch

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Lora DiCarlo, a sex tech startup that made headlines in 2019 after being blacklisted from the Consumer Electronics Show, seems to have shut down. The company’s website is offline and reportedly orders have gone unfulfilled for months.

TechCrunch has reached out to the eponymous founder for confirmation, but it sure looks like the end of the line for a briefly promising high-tech sex toy enterprise.

Founded in 2017, Lora DiCarlo was one of a new wave of tech-forward sexual health companies headed up by women. It won an innovation award at CES 2019 for, as our writer put it at the time, “a hands-free device that uses biomimicry and robotics to help women achieve a blended orgasm by simultaneously stimulating the G-spot and the clitoris.”

But then the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, withdrew the award and banned the company from exhibiting at the show. Their explanation at the time was that neither the company nor its devices “fit a product category.”

Predictably, this attracted immediate blowback and allegations of sexism, prudery and generally bad judgment. Everyone was on Lora DiCarlo’s side, and the publicity was invaluable, she later told TechCrunch at Disrupt: “I think they actually did us a pretty big favor.” The company raised $2 million around that time, and about $9 million total over its five years of operation.

But despite a big return to the show in 2020 (and a coveted TC+ feature, of course), the company seems to have faltered during the pandemic — perhaps falling victim to the same chip shortages and manufacturing problems even established hardware makers encountered.

As chronicled by Women’s Health, the last few months seem to have been Lora DiCarlo’s last, as various aspects of a functioning commercial enterprise began to fail: orders weren’t going out, stock was gone at retail partners and personnel have left. The site went down earlier this month and is down still. Although there has not been any official announcement, it certainly does seem that the company is kaput.

It’s too bad, but finding success as a hardware startup is hard enough without a pandemic and the stigma on sex toys adding drag. We’ll update this article if we hear back from DiCarlo.

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