In my very recent post:
“Internet Users’ Safety in a Post-Roe World”
I expressed concerns regarding how Internet and telecommunications firms would protect women’s and others’ data in a post-Roe v. Wade world of anti-abortion states’ health data demands.
Google has now briefly blogged about this, at:
“Protecting people’s privacy on health topics”
The most notable part of the Google post is the announcement of this important change:
“Location History is a Google account setting that is off by default, and for those that turn it on, we provide simple controls like auto-delete so users can easily delete parts, or all, of their data at any time. Some of the places people visit — including medical facilities like counseling centers, domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics, fertility centers, addiction treatment facilities, weight loss clinics, cosmetic surgery clinics, and others — can be particularly personal. Today, we’re announcing that if our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from Location History soon after they visit. This change will take effect in the coming weeks.”
I definitely endorse this change, which aligns with the suggestions in my above referenced blog post regarding handling of sensitive location data. Thank you Google for taking this crucial action. This is an excellent start.
However, not yet publicly addressed by Google are the issues I noted regarding how these sensitive topics in search histories (both as stored by Google itself and/or on browsers) could also be abused by anti-abortion states hell-bent on pursuing women and others as part of those states’ extremist agendas, including in many instances abortion bans without exceptions for rape and incest.
Again, I praise Google for their initial step regarding location data, but there’s much more work still to do!