After the overturned abortion law, violations of the law should be punished more quickly. Google wants to protect its customers from this and delete their location data in the future if they have visited an abortion clinic. In the state of New York, the right to abortion is to be included in the constitution.
In the future, Google wants to delete the location data of users who have visited abortion clinics, women’s shelters and other intimate places in the USA. “If our systems determine that someone has visited one of these locations, we will delete those entries from Location History shortly after the visit,” Google executive Jen Fitzpatrick announced on Friday. The change will come into effect in the coming weeks.
Other places where Google no longer wants to store location data from smartphones in the future are fertility clinics, addiction clinics and weight loss clinics.
After the verdict, activists and politicians called on Google and other technology companies to stop storing location history and other sensitive user data so that the authorities could not use them to investigate abortions.
Google wants to protect customers
Fitzpatrick explained in a blog post that Google has long rejected “overly broad claims by law enforcement agencies”. “We consider the privacy and security expectations of people who use our products, and we notify people when we comply with regulatory requirements,” she wrote.
Even before the Supreme Court ruling, there had been fears in the United States that authorities could use smartphone location data in investigations into abortions.
Several states have passed legislation in recent months encouraging individuals to sue doctors and others who have helped women get abortions. Parliamentarians from the Democrats therefore wrote a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai in May, in which they asked him to stop collecting location data so as not to turn the data into a “tool used by right-wing extremists”.
Conservative states ban abortion, New York wants to enshrine law in the constitution
With the announcement, the technology group is reacting to the abortion ruling of the US Supreme Court. Just over a week ago, the Supreme Court overturned the landmark “Roe v. Wade” ruling from 1973, which had enshrined a nationwide right to abortions. This means that the states can now largely or even completely ban abortions. Some conservative-governed states have already done so.
The US state of New York wants to enshrine the right to abortion in its constitution. The Senate of the Democrat-governed state on Friday voted for an amendment to the constitution that establishes a right to abortion and access to contraceptives. Now the New York House of Representatives must vote on the text before it is put to voters in a referendum.
Organizations taken to court in 11 states
The civil rights organization American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said on Friday that there is now no or almost no access to abortions in around a dozen states. “That number is likely to increase over the coming days, weeks and months until it’s about 26 states nationwide,” said ACLU Director Anthony Romero. That’s more than half of the 50 states.
Abortion rights organizations have already gone to court in 11 states to challenge restrictive laws. States ruled by the Democrats want to consolidate abortion rights. President Joe Biden has also spoken out in favor of enshrining the right to abortion in federal law throughout the country. However, it is almost impossible that there will be the necessary majorities in Congress in Washington.