After the US supreme court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, calls increased for tech companies to take a stand about the use of online data to incriminate individuals seeking or providing abortion services, The Guardian reported.
According to The Guardian, abortion and civil rights advocates have warned that there are few federal regulations on what information is collected and retained by tech firms, making it easy for law enforcement officials to access incriminating data on location, internet searchers and communication history.
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) posted “Digital Safety Tips: For People Seeking an Abortion”. In it, EFF recommends that people should keep searches related to abortion separate from their daily lives. Compartmentalizing it could make it harder to trace it back to you.
EFF also recommends choosing a separate browser with hardened privacy settings. They suggest browsers like Brave, Firefox, and DuckDuckGo on mobile. They also recommend turning off browser’s abilities to remember browsing history and site data/cookies. People who need to call a clinic or healthcare provider should do it through a Google Voice phone number instead of their actual phone number.
CNBC reported that tech companies may have to contend with issues about user privacy related to such health care whether they want to or not. That could be the case if they are ordered by a court to hand over certain types of data, like location information of users at an abortion clinic, search histories or text messages.
According to CNBC, before the decision [by the Supreme Court], lawmakers called on Google and the Federal Trade Commission to ensure data for online consumers seeking care would be protected in the event of a landmark Roe v. Wade ruling. The letters came in the wake of Politico’s reporting on a leaked draft decision that would cut back the protections.
ArsTechnica reported that four Democratic US Senators asked the Federal Trade Commission to “investigate Apple and Google for engaging in unfair and deceptive practices by enabling the collection and sale of hundreds of millions of mobile phone users’ personal data”.
The letter cited the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, saying that women “seeking abortions and other reproductive healthcare will become particularly vulnerable to privacy harms, including through the collection of their location data,”
Personally, I don’t think anyone wants to have their data collected by big tech companies – no matter what it was they were looking at on their phone or computer. Nobody wants data brokers to sell their information. I think that digital privacy is a topic we can all agree needs to be made more secure.