Google To Delete Users' Location History After Visits To Abortion Clinics
By: April Carson
After the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, Google is taking measures to safeguard users from location monitoring that could result in legal difficulties for states prohibiting abortion termination. The tech giant will now be automatically deleting the location history of any user who visits an abortion clinic, as well as any other users who frequently visit these locations.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade may lead to the prohibition of abortion in more than a dozen jurisdictions, raising the prospect that people's records such as addresses, texts, queries, and emails could be used against them or for medical care sought after a miscarriage.
"We want to make sure that Google products like Maps and Search work well for everyone, regardless of their background or situation," said a company spokeswoman. "So we're taking steps to protect the privacy of our users who may be affected by new state laws that could restrict access to abortion."
Google has released a new set of guidelines that aim to safeguard users' privacy when they go to "sensitive" health-related locations, including abortion clinics and domestic violence shelters, in a Friday blog post.
Users who go to abortion clinics will have their location information removed by Google automatically. And for users who visit domestic violence shelters, the decision to have their location information shared will be left up to them.
Google is going to continue exploring new ways to strengthen and improve the privacy measures it offers, according to a blog post from Google's Senior Vice President of Core Systems and Engagement, Jen Fitzpatrick. "We're dedicated to providing robust protection for users of our services, and we'll keep looking for better methods to protect their privacy," she added.
Google also advised that users' location histories will automatically be cleared of visits to abortion clinics, as well as counseling centers, fertility facilities, addiction treatment institutions, weight loss clinics, and cosmetic surgery offices.
Users have always had the freedom to edit their location histories on their own, but Google will now automatically do so as a further level of anonymity.
"Today, we're happy to announce that if our systems detect that someone has visited one of these locations, we will delete these entries from their Location History as soon as they leave. This change will go into effect in the coming weeks." Fitzpatrick concluded.
To provide more information about how applications gather, share, and secure data, Google will also modify its app store guidelines regarding privacy.
The declaration was made amid rising pressure on Big Tech firms to do more to protect troves of personal information stored on their digital services and products from government authorities and other intruders.
As with other IT firms, Google is subject to numerous government demands for digital records as part of misconduct probes each year. According to the firm's internal transparency report, it received over 150,000 requests for user data from law enforcement in the first half of 2021, and information was provided in about 78% of cases.
The blog post went on to say, "We remain committed to defending our users against unreasonable government demands for data and will continue to fight demands that are overly broad or otherwise legally problematic."
It's unclear how often Google is asked to provide data on users who visit abortion clinics specifically. But the news comes as tech companies are under increased scrutiny for their handling of user data.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Facebook is sharing user data with law enforcement that includes location information.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
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