Why Google is erasing location info as US abortion ban expands| 5 points

Published on Jul 03, 2022 08:23 AM IST

Google will automatically delete information about users who visit abortion clinics or other places that could trigger legal problems.

Why Google is erasing location info as US abortion ban expands
Why Google is erasing location info as US abortion ban expands
Written by Manjiri Sachin Chitre | Edited by Swati Bhasin

Days after the United States Supreme Court struck down the historic Roe v Wade judgment that had institutionalized abortion-related protections in the country, Google announced that it would delete all users' location history when they visit abortion clinics, domestic violence shelters, and other places where privacy is sought. The company outlined the new privacy protections in a blog post on Friday.

Here are five things about Google's move:

1. Google will automatically purge information about users who visit abortion clinics or other places that could trigger legal problems as the US supreme court has opened the door for the states to ban abortions.

2. Google's move comes as pressure starts building up on big tech companies to shield sensitive personal information about people visiting clinics for abortions. As the reversal of the Roe v. Wade ruling makes abortion illegal in about a dozen US states, people's location, texts, searches, and emails could be used in prosecutions against abortion procedures or even for medical care sought in a miscarriage.

Also read: Texas clinics halt abortions after state high court ruling

3. Each year, Google receives thousands of demands from the government for users' digital records as part of misconduct investigations, reported news agency AP.

4. Apart from deleting visits to abortion clinics, Google also cited other centers. “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,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Also read: Biden seeks to boost abortion patient privacy after Roe tossed

5. “We’re committed to delivering robust privacy protections for people who use our products, and we will continue to look for new ways to strengthen and improve these protections," Jen Fitzpatrick, a Google senior vice president, wrote in the blog post.

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