Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Home POLITICS Democrats want Google to protect the privacy of abortion seekers

Democrats want Google to protect the privacy of abortion seekers

Today, Google has granular location data on where millions of Americans are today, where they were yesterday, where they go every Tuesday at 4 pm, and where they walk their dog every morning and afternoon. And if the police produce a warrant for that data, Google generally has to give it to them.

Now, Senate Democrats are asking Google to change that, to remove historical information about our physical whereabouts and commit to collecting much less in the future, because they fear prosecutors will use the information to bring criminal charges against them. people who have an abortion open letter to the tech giant, 40 Democratic senators wrote: “[I]In a world where abortion could become illegal, Google’s current practice of collecting and keeping extensive records of cell phone location data will allow it to become a tool for far-right extremists seeking to crack down on individuals. seeking reproductive health care.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Abortion is still legal (and constitutionally protected) in the US today, but a draft Supreme Court ruling of February indicates that the court may plan to annul roe v. calf — the case protecting abortion rights — in the coming weeks. If it does, nearly two dozen states they are about to make abortion illegal out of the box, raising questions about how the state could use citizens’ fingerprints to charge them with seeking abortion services.

The use of “geofence orders” (orders that require companies to hand over information about every person who visited a certain place within a certain period of time) has rising sharply in recent years. They were notably critical to identify and charge protesters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and have been used in everything from bank robberies to break-ins. But civil libertarians have opposite its sheer breadth, and a federal district court ruled in March that are unconstitutional.

It’s easy to see how geofencing orders could be used to target people who have visited abortion clinics. But they also tend to make suspects of people who were literally in the wrong place at the wrong time. If Google were to stop collecting this information, it would mark a sea change in the way criminal cases are investigated: one that could frustrate police and prosecutors who see arrest warrants as vital to fighting crime, but would relieve activists and privacy advocates who would prefer their physical movements cannot be accessed so easily by the government.

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