Google To Turn Off The Location History If Anyone Visits Abortion Centres

Google To Turn Off The Location History If Anyone Visits Abortion Centres

Earlier this week, Google announced that it would delete location history when users went to abortion clinics, domestic violence shelters and other places that wished to remain anonymous.  “If our systems find that somebody has visited one of these places, we will delete their entries in Location History soon after they visited,” Jen Fitzpatrick, a Google senior vice president, wrote in a blog post. The new policy will become effective in the next few weeks.”

 In addition to fertility centres, addiction treatment facilities, and weight loss clinics, Google will not collect location data from these places.  The announcement comes just one week after the US Supreme Court ruled that women cannot be granted constitutional abortion rights, prompting a dozen states to ban or severely restrict the procedure and hundreds of thousands of protesters to rally across the country.  

After the US supreme court ruled last month that abortions are no longer protected by the constitution, state laws limiting abortions are setting in, and the technology industry has expressed concerns that police may obtain warrants to search the search histories, geolocations, and other information of customers to learn about pregnancy plans.

 Google said on Friday that it would continue to oppose unreasonable or overly broad government data demands unrelated to abortion.

 Activists and politicians are calling on Google and other tech giants to limit the amount of information they collect to prevent law enforcement agencies from using the information to investigate and enforce abortions. Besides reassuring users that his company takes privacy seriously, Fitzpatrick reiterated that he wanted them to feel safe.

 “Google has a long history of pushing back on a wide range of law enforcement claims, including a complete opposition to some,” she writes. Her responsibilities include “considering the privacy and security expectations of people who are using our products, as well as communicating with them when we comply with the regulation.”

 Concerns about smartphone data and reproductive rights have passed legislation in recent months that some conservative states in the United States have given the public the right to sue doctors who perform abortions or help mitigate abortions. It is before the Supreme Court’s decision at the time.


A group of leading Democratic lawmakers in May sent a letter to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai asking him to stop collecting smartphone location data lest it becomes “a tool for far-right extremists looking to crack down on people seeking reproductive health care.”

 Neither Google nor its representatives immediately answered how the company would identify such visits nor if all data related to the visits would be erased from its servers.  In response to concerns raised by law enforcement officials about how user data might be misused and imposed by law enforcement, Google is the first tech company publicly to detail how it will manage user data. 

Additionally, the company updated its policy on Friday, so that it will now consider US advertisers to be providing abortions even if they self-dispense pills by mail after a virtual consultation, but lack a physical facility.  Fitzpatrick noted that visits to places like counselling centres, domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics, and fertility centres could be particularly personal. The parent company of Google, Alphabet, controls many highly popular devices and online data services, such as Android, Fitbit, Search, and Google Maps.

In light of the Supreme Court ruling, this has become more of a concern due to the uncertainty regarding whether sensitive information could be used to target what is now potentially criminal activity. A Google post states that Fitbit users who choose to track their menstrual cycle in the app can delete their menstrual logs individually. We have rolled out an update that allows users to remove multiple logs all at once.”

 The Supreme Court’s ruling overturned almost 50 years of precedent by overturning the original view that women have the constitutional right to abortion. In the weeks since November, Google and other tech companies have avoided answering questions from the media and legislators about data storage and practices, as well as how to respond to law enforcement requests regarding data..

Google, which emailed employees its resources for its employees in the ruling,  faced questions about search results in addition to privacy.


Even before the decision is official, legislators call on Google and the Federal Trade Commission to ensure that the privacy of online consumers seeking help if a groundbreaking decision is overturned is protected. I did. In May, a group of 42 Democrats told Google CEO Sundar Pichai to stop collecting and storing unwanted or unaggregated location data that could be used to identify those seeking an abortion. It was my pleasure to write the letter I requested.

Alphabet Google’s Friday post didn’t say how to respond to potential law enforcement requests. Instead, the company “continues to resist claims that are too broad or  legally unfavourable.”

 Many institutions share responsibilities with Google, the company said. In this context, the post said, “we know that privacy cannot be an issue for individual companies or states if these issues apply to healthcare providers, carriers, banks, and technology platforms.”     I am. Google will also update the app store’s privacy log to “provide more information about how apps collect, share, and protect data.”

 The tech giant also said it would “continue” to resist the overly broad demands of law enforcement agencies for user data. According to the company’s Internal Transparency Report, in the first half of 2021, we received approximately 150,000 user data requests from law enforcement agencies and provided 78% of the information. This is a higher percentage than in the past since data tracking began in 2010.

Among the concerns raised in recent weeks about the potential impact of putting Roe v aside. Wade may be monitoring the data. In the Mississippi and Indiana cases, user search history, text messages, and location data have already been used to prosecute women for abortion, and some experts expect such cases to worsen. doing.

 “What companies should now consider is to collect a huge amount of data about the daily lives of the people who are likely to be used against them in this context. There’s a lot of data to consider because it includes location data, health data, photos, and communications, “Eva Galperin,  director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told insiders.


 “Companies are slow-moving and it is very difficult to create policies on the spot, so I think it is very important for companies to take the time to look to the future and think about how they collected it. You can use the data. Targeting those who provide abortion support and those who desire an abortion. ” Google has clashed with the government before on data collection issues: A decade ago, it pushed back against the National Security Agency`s bulk data collection programs.

edited and proofread by nikita sharma

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