In the coming weeks, Google says it would begin automatically erasing visits to abortion clinics, domestic violence shelters, weight reduction clinics, and other potentially sensitive sites from users’ location history. In a blog post published on Friday, the business stated that the deletion will occur “shortly after” the visit, once its algorithms detect that a journey to one of the sites was made. This shift is occurring in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the immediate actions taken by some states to criminalize abortions.
Google’s post, headlined “Protecting people’s privacy on health matters,” also highlights a Fitbit upgrade that will allow you to erase numerous menstruation recordings at once if you’ve been using the health tracking feature.
These privacy modifications are intended to remove certain data from Google’s servers that could be used to prosecute people for seeking medical treatment, but the business still maintains a lot of other information about your actions. Search and YouTube histories could potentially be used as evidence in investigations, though Google’s post makes no mention of them. We’ve contacted Google to inquire if any further precautions it is taking to protect users’ data.
While Google is legally required to cooperate with certain government data requests (and may be compelled to turn over logs if they exist), the corporation reiterates that it would “continue to fight unduly broad or otherwise legally unacceptable demands.” Google also claims that it would notify users when it provides their data to the government unless it is prohibited by law or there is a critical security concern.
Concerns about data privacy in relation to abortion extend beyond Google: official medical records aren’t as private as many of us believe, and anything from text messages to purchase records could be used against you in court. Furthermore, the corporation isn’t the only one keeping track of where your smartphone has been. For additional information, please visit our post on the privacy dangers that people seeking care may now face.