Thursday, August 18, 2022
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Google will delete user location history for abortion clinic visits

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Google mentioned Friday that it might delete its customers’ location historical past at any time when they go to an abortion clinic, home violence shelter or different similarly-sensitive place, responding publicly for the primary time to requires the information big to restrict the quantity of data it collects that could possibly be utilized by regulation enforcement for abortion investigations and prosecutions.

“If our techniques establish that somebody has visited considered one of these locations, we’ll delete these entries from Location Historical past quickly after they go to,” Jen Fitzpatrick, a senior Google govt, mentioned in a blog post.

The weblog put up additionally reiterates Google’s place that it pushes again in opposition to what’s sees as overly broad or unlawful authorities requests for information, however doesn’t particularly say how the corporate will reply to abortion-related requests. Google already lets its customers flip off location-tracking fully.

Abortion is illegal for millions. Will Big Tech help prosecute it?

Google and different Huge Tech firms have been under pressure over the past week to clarify how they’ll reply to such requests. Google already responds to a whole bunch of search warrants daily in the US, handing over its clients’ emails, location information and paperwork saved within the cloud. As regulation enforcement businesses turn out to be extra tech-savvy, they’ve more and more used the huge troves of information collected by Huge Tech to bolster investigations and prosecutions.

Privateness advocates have lengthy identified that these similar ways could possibly be utilized to abortion investigations, a hypothetical scenario that has now turn out to be actuality after the Supreme Court docket overturned Roe v. Wade. Google has fought the federal government on different information assortment points earlier than, equivalent to pushing back against the Nationwide Safety Company’s bulk information assortment packages a decade in the past.

Any battle between the tech firms and governments about information assortment needs to be performed in public, in order that common folks and privateness advocates can have their say too, mentioned Megan Graham, a lawyer on the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic on the College of California at Berkeley who advises public protection attorneys on tech and privateness points.

Okay, Google: To protect women, collect less data about everyone

“I hope if Google does make the choice to begin pushing again once they get these, whether or not that’s within the abortion context or in any other case, that they accomplish that in public,” Graham mentioned. “Google’s voice is clearly vital within the dialogue as a result of they’ve the information and they’re those working he searches however their pursuits are usually not essentially the identical as most people, or people who find themselves involved about privateness rights.”

Different tech firms are going through the identical questions as Google. Fb leaders have mentioned authorized methods to answer the choice since a draft model leaked in Could, in response to an individual accustomed to the matter who spoke on the situation of anonymity for concern of retribution. At Amazon, an worker petition asking the corporate to take a firmer stance on abortion rights and cease giving cash to antiabortion politicians has obtained greater than 1,500 signatures. On Friday, some Amazon staff known as in sick to protest the corporate’s silence on the problem.

Caroline O’Donovan contributed to this report.

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