Google to delete user data on trips to abortion clinics


The Internet search and advertising leader said the Location History feature on its services is turned off by default, but even if active, the company’s policy starting in the coming weeks will be to rapidly delete records of visits to places that many people would prefer to keep private. — AFP

Alphabet Inc’s Google said it will automatically delete records of user visits to sensitive locations, including abortion clinics, responding to growing concerns that the data could be used to prosecute those seeking reproductive care and other personal services.

The Internet search and advertising leader said the Location History feature on its services is turned off by default, but even if active, the company’s policy starting in the coming weeks will be to rapidly delete records of visits to places that many people would prefer to keep private.

ALSO READ: US anti-abortion centres find pregnant teens online, then save their data

“Some of the places people visit – including medical facilities like counselling centres, domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics, fertility centres, addiction treatment facilities, weight loss clinics, cosmetic surgery clinics, and others – can be particularly personal,” Google said in a post Friday on its website. “If our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from Location History soon after they visit.”

Google also said it will roll out updates that enable users of its Fitbit wearable devices who track their periods in the app to delete multiple logs at once.

ALSO READ: US abortion reversal spurs online data fears

Though Google made no explicit reference to it, the policy change is a clear response to last week’s US Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, a decision that is expected to lead to abortion becoming illegal in about half of the nation’s states.

Legal and privacy experts widely anticipate that the criminalisation of seeking, obtaining or aiding in abortion care will lead law enforcement and courts to demand search, location, email and cloud data from Google and other technology giants. The biggest companies have so far declined to detail how they will handle those requests.

ALSO READ: Google searches for ‘abortion pill’ soared after the court leak

Google declined to comment further than what’s in the blog post, though the company sought to underscore its policy of fighting government requests that it deems improper.

“We remain committed to protecting our users against improper government demands for data, and we will continue to oppose demands that are overly broad or otherwise legally objectionable,” the company said. – Bloomberg

Article type: free
User access status:
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!
   

Next In Tech News

Study: The majority of jobs now require digital skills
Rethink needed to regulate Big Tech in finance, says BIS official
UN experts: North Korean hackers stole record virtual assets
SK On confirms termination of non-binding agreement to build battery cell venture in Turkey
A first generation iPhone is expected to fetch US$50,000 at auction
Codebreakers find, decipher lost letters of Mary, Queen of Scots
Biden accuses social media companies of exploiting children
Fakery and fraud: Energy scammers cast 'wide net' on Facebook
Apple expands testing of ‘buy now, pay later’ service to retail employees
Study: Remote working has saved employees around the world an average of 72 minutes every day

Others Also Read