Tech

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

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

The placement information change will happen within the coming weeks, Jen Fitzpatrick, a Google senior vice chairman, wrote in a blog post. The coverage may also apply to journeys to fertility clinics, home violence shelters, habit therapy services and different delicate areas.

Google, which holds reams of intimate details about its billions of customers, has come below scrutiny because the Supreme Court docket’s choice 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 individuals to delete apps that monitor their menstrual cycles on-line, whereas specialists stated search and placement information from corporations like Google are extra doubtless for use as proof.

The overturning of Roe has extra broadly renewed questions on how a lot information and digital trails individuals have produced, which may very well be used to surveil or goal those that attempt to get an abortion. In states that enable bans or different limits on abortion, legislation enforcement is anticipated to be centered on taking motion in opposition to medical suppliers, however details about people — together with location information, funds information and extra — is just not exhausting to acquire by information brokers and different sources.

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

With Friday’s announcement, whereas Google will delete some location information, it didn’t decide to mechanically deleting search data about abortions, which can additionally turn out to be 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 personal Incognito Mode — which can additional erode confidence that the corporate will purge all information when individuals attempt to browse privately.

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

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

The corporate additionally stated that customers will quickly be capable of extra shortly delete a number of menstruation logs saved on Fitbit, a health-tracking firm owned by Google, relatively than one by one. The corporate additionally reminded customers to make use of current settings choices on Google to enhance their on-line privateness.

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