Google To Delete Location Data For Abortion Clinic Visits
Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the US, Google has announced that location data for visits to abortion sites and other medical visits will be delete quickly afterwards.
“Today, we’re announcing that if our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from Location History soon after they visit. This change will take effect in the coming weeks” said Google’s senior vice president of core systems and experiences, Jen Fitzpatrick.
In the blog post, Fitzpatrick noted that visits to these locations are deeply personal, and since the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe vs Wade and eliminated the constitutional right to abortion, Google have sought to protect it’s users from prosecution, as collected data could be used against them.
An awareness campaign for women to manage and delete data from menstrual cycle tracking apps has arisen, with Google responding with a change to their FitBit software.
“Fitbit users who have chosen to track their menstrual cycles in the app can currently delete menstruation logs one at a time, and we will be rolling out updates that let users delete multiple logs at once.”
Major tech companies such as Google have been repeatedly asked about their data storage and collection, and how it would respond to requests from law enforcement.
In their blog post, Google did not reveal how they would respond, but instead said that it would continue “pushing back on overly broad demands from law enforcement, including objecting to some demands entirely.”
In the leadup to the court ruling, lawmakers requested that Google and the Federal Trade Commission keep the data of online users safe, whilst in May, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was urged to delete unnecessary data that could be used to find and prosecute those looking to seek abortions.
Google believe that the responsibility of collecting and protecting relevant data is shared across multiple institutions.
“Given that these issues apply to healthcare providers, telecommunications companies, banks, tech platforms, and many more, we know privacy protections cannot be solely up to individual companies or states acting individually.”