Google Says It Will Delete Location Data When Users Visit Abortion Clinics

SAN FRANCISCO — Google mentioned on Friday that it could delete abortion clinic visits from the placement historical past of its customers, within the firm’s first effort to deal with the way it will deal with delicate knowledge within the wake of the Supreme Courtroom overturning Roe v. Wade.

The situation knowledge change will happen within the coming weeks, Jen Fitzpatrick, a Google senior vp, wrote in a weblog publish. The coverage will even apply to journeys to fertility clinics, home violence shelters, dependancy remedy amenities and different delicate places.

Google, which holds reams of intimate details about its billions of customers, has come beneath scrutiny for the reason that Supreme Courtroom’s determination final week to strike down Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional proper to an abortion after virtually 50 years. Some supporters of reproductive rights have pushed folks to delete apps that observe their menstrual cycles on-line, whereas specialists mentioned search and placement knowledge from corporations like Google are extra doubtless for use as proof.

The overturning of Roe has extra broadly renewed questions on how a lot knowledge and digital trails folks have produced, which could possibly be used to surveil or goal those that try to get an abortion. In states that enable bans or different limits on abortion, legislation enforcement is anticipated to be targeted on taking motion towards medical suppliers, however details about people — together with location knowledge, funds knowledge and extra — isn’t onerous to acquire by way of knowledge brokers and different sources.

The Alphabet Staff Union, a bunch representing greater than 800 individuals who work for Google’s mother or father firm, Alphabet, demanded on Tuesday that the search large delete any private knowledge that legislation enforcement may attempt to use to prosecute those that are getting abortions.

With Friday’s announcement, whereas Google will delete some location knowledge, it didn’t decide to mechanically deleting search data about abortions, which can additionally develop into wanted. Customers should individually decide to delete their search historical past.

Google has been sued by the state of Texas, accused of constant to trace customers even after they use the Chrome net browsers’ supposedly non-public Incognito Mode — which can additional erode confidence that the corporate will purge all knowledge when folks attempt to browse privately.

Google additionally made no commitments about altering the way in which it handles authorities knowledge requests.

“We stay dedicated to defending our customers towards improper authorities calls for for knowledge, and we’ll proceed to oppose calls for which might be overly broad or in any other case legally objectionable,” Ms. Fitzpatrick wrote.

The corporate additionally mentioned that customers will quickly have the ability to extra shortly delete a number of menstruation logs saved on Fitbit, a health-tracking firm owned by Google, moderately than separately. The corporate additionally reminded customers to make use of present settings choices on Google to enhance their on-line privateness.

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