Google asked to prove it’s not suppressing anti-abortion search results

  • Internet
  • Wednesday, 27 Jul 2022

A cursor moves over Google’s search engine page Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, in Portland, Oregon. Some federal lawmakers urged Google last month to limit the appearance of anti-abortion pregnancy clinics in certain abortion-related search results. Now, 17 Republican attorneys general, including Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, are warning the company that doing so could invite legal action. Their letter Thursday, July 21, 2022, to the CEO of Google parent Alphabet Inc. criticizes the letter signed by 21 members of Congress, which points to the prominence of anti-abortion pregnancy clinics in searches for abortion services. — AP

Republican attorneys general from 17 US states are asking Alphabet Inc’s Google to provide assurances that the search giant isn’t suppressing results for crisis pregnancy centres in favour of abortion clinics.

The letter, part of a campaign spearheaded by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, asks Google to resist a June 17 call from Democratic lawmakers to “limit the appearance of pro-life clinics” in search results.

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

The legislators had written to Alphabet chief executive officer Sundar Pichai about “disturbing” reports of Google’s search results for “abortion” and “abortion pill” directing people to crisis pregnancy centres, which attempt to steer women away from abortions.

They had asked Alphabet to limit results for those centres for people seeking abortion services or to provide disclaimers that indicate such organisations do not offer abortion care.

ALSO READ: Google to delete user data on trips to abortion clinics

“Google appears to have caved to those demands,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in the statement Tuesday. Alphabet has not announced any changes to searches related to reproductive health care in the last month and results for abortion still regularly serve up crisis pregnancy centres.

Google didn’t respond to a request for further comment and the Texas attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to questions asking what changes he was referring to in his comments.

ALSO READ: US abortion reversal spurs online data fears

Technology giants are also facing questions about whether they will hand over user data to authorities in states that have banned or severely limited abortion. A majority of states either already have or will add laws that restrict access to abortion now that there are no federal protections, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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

Google said earlier this month it will automatically delete records of user visits to sensitive locations, including abortion clinics. The Republican attorneys general accused the search giant “religious discrimination” if it is suppressing results for the pro-life centers because they are often faith-based services.

The letter asks Alphabet if its treating crisis pregnancy centres “any differently” than they were before. They gave the search giant 14 days to respond. The letter came from a mix of states where abortion is banned, such at Texas and Mississippi, and others such as Virginia and Montana, where abortion is not restricted. – Bloomberg

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