World · July 2, 2022

Google to delete the location history of users during visits to abortion clinics in the United States

Google announced Friday that it will clear the location history of users when they visit abortion clinics, domestic violence shelters, and other places where privacy is required.

“If our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from the Location History immediately after the visit,” Jen Fitzpatrick, senior vice president of Google, wrote in a blog post. “This change will take effect in the coming weeks.”

Other places Google won’t store location data from include fertility centers, addiction treatment facilities, and weight loss clinics.

The announcement comes a week after the US Supreme Court made the tectonic decision to deprive American women of constitutional rights to abortion, leading a dozen states to ban or severely restrict the procedure and provoking mass protests throughout. the country.

Activists and politicians have called on Google and other tech giants to limit the amount of information they collect to prevent it from being used by law enforcement for investigations and prosecutions of abortion.

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Fitzpatrick also tried to reassure users that the company takes data privacy seriously.

“Google has a long track record of rejecting too broad requests from law enforcement, including outright opposition to some requests,” he wrote.

“We take into account the privacy and security expectations of the people who use our products and notify people when we comply with government requests.”

Concerns about smartphone data and reproductive rights emerged even before the Supreme Court ruling, when several conservative U.S. states in recent months passed laws giving members of the public the right to sue doctors who practice abortions. or anyone who helps them facilitate them.

This led a group of prominent Democratic lawmakers in May to send a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, asking him to stop collecting smartphone location data lest it become “a tool for far-right extremists seeking to crack down on people seeking reproductive health care. “

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