While many states should soon, in the United States, prohibit or strongly restrict access to abortion after the decision taken by the Supreme Court of the country to reverse the judgment Roe vs Wade, Google announced, Friday 1er July, measures to protect certain data from the authorities.
In a press release, the company announced that it would stop saving, in the geolocation history of its users, visits to abortion clinics, but also to many sensitive places, such as homes for victims of domestic violence, fertility clinics or addiction treatment centres. “If our systems detect that someone has visited one of these locations, we will delete these location history entries shortly thereafter”explains Google in a press release, adding that this new rule “will take effect in the coming weeks”. The firm does not specify, on the other hand, if this decision concerns only its American users or if it is intended to be applied on a global scale.
This announcement comes as Google, like many American tech giants, has been ordered for several weeks to take measures to prevent the data of its users from being used by the authorities to repress abortion.
Geolocation data, for example, could be requested by the courts to determine whether a person has visited a clinic practicing abortion. They could also be useful if the States which are preparing to prohibit or restrict abortion also seek to punish the fact of traveling to a neighboring State to terminate a pregnancy. In March, anticipating the future decision of the Supreme Court, elected Democrats asked Google to limit the collection of geolocation data to protect its users.
Uncertainty continues, moreover, to hang over the position that the Californian company will adopt when, within the framework of legal investigations, the authorities of States prohibiting abortion will ask it for information relating to its users. “We will continue to oppose requests [des autorités] that are too broad or legally questionable”assured Google, and “We notify people when we comply with state requests, except when we are prohibited from doing so or when lives are at stake.”
In a recent interview with World In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, expert Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a pioneering privacy organization, called on the tech to review the way they collect and store their users’ personal data.