Flo Health’s Sue Khan grew up with her mother—a female doctor in 1980s Saudi Arabia—providing health care to women who “didn’t know their own bodies,” she says. These days, her own professional life also promotes the cause of female reproductive health, just from a different angle. Earlier this year, the London lawyer stepped in to direct data security and privacy initiatives at the world’s most popular period tracking app. Under Khan’s leadership, the Belarus-founded platform now leads the industry in ensuring its 50 million users retain control over their most intimate data.
After the US Supreme Court overturned a constitutional right to abortion, and reproductive privacy gained worldwide attention, Flo introduced a first-of-its-kind feature: Anonymous Mode, which allows users to access the app without using their name, email address, or other digital identifiers. Flo’s Anonymous mode also functions in such a way that no single data source has complete user information, which helps protect against hacking. Under Khan, Flo took the feature a step further by open sourcing the technology so other femtech companies could use it as well.
As Khan sees it, privacy and security are fundamental aspects of Flo’s product, so she’s not content simply obeying the letter of privacy law. Instead, she envisions the personal health platform with the same protection and security as a banking application. Achieving this goal and staying at the forefront of data security requires cross-industry collaboration. That’s why this year Flo has a privacy and security advisory board with appointees from across the business world, including eBay’s Chief Privacy Officer and NextDoor’s Chief Data Officer, as well as Khan himself.
Khan says she is particularly proud that Flo earned ISO 27001 certification, a hard-to-obtain independent rating that requires meeting “the world’s most stringent standards and certifies that Flo protects users’ data to the highest standard possible,” according to the company. It became the first period and ovulation tracking platform to do so.
World standard and all, women’s health and privacy remain personal for Khan. Her own two daughters—now aged nine and six—will one day be users of the app, and she uses it herself. “I can honestly, hand-on-heart say that privacy is part of Flo’s story,” she tells Quartz. “I’m so incredibly proud of that.”
This story is part of Quartz’s Innovators List 2023a series that highlights the people who are deploying bold technologies and reimagining the way we do business for good around the world. Get the full list here.