Lawmakers ask Google to stop collecting location data before reversal of abortion rights

Senator Ron Wyden and 41 different Democratic lawmakers are urging Google to cease amassing and holding location knowledge that may very well be used in opposition to individuals who’ve had or are searching for abortions. In a letter (PDF) to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, the lawmakers referenced the Supreme Courtroom draft obtained by Politico during which SCOTUS justices have voted to reverse Roe v. Wade. The landmark case protected the federal rights to abortion throughout the nation, and states with set off legal guidelines will instantly criminalize abortion if it really will get overturned.

,[W]e are involved that, in a world during which abortion may very well be made unlawful, Google’s present apply of amassing and retaining in depth information of cellular phone location knowledge will enable it to grow to be a software for far-right extremists trying to crack down on folks searching for reproductive well being care,” the lawmakers wrote. Their concern principally lies with how Google designed Android in order that it additionally has to obtain location knowledge if a third-party app asks customers for entry to their location info. On iOS, Google can solely gather info knowledge whereas persons are utilizing Google Maps.

As Google reveals in its transparency studies, it routinely will get court docket orders, subpoenas and search warrants from legislation enforcement businesses trying to get their arms on person info. Within the first half of 2021, for example, the tech big acquired 50,907 requests for disclosure of person info involving 115,594 accounts. A complete of 82 % of these requests resulted within the disclosure of some info.

Of their letter, the lawmakers identified how 1 / 4 of the court docket orders Google will get is for “geofence” knowledge, which may present info on folks close to a specific location at a given time. They means it may very well be used to determine individuals who go to reproductive well being clinics and different locations that assist folks search entry to abortions.

The signees praised Google for being one of many first corporations to require a warrant earlier than disclosing person knowledge, however they stated it is not sufficient. They in contrast Google to Apple, saying the latter reveals that it is “not crucial for smartphone corporations to retain invasive monitoring databases of their prospects’ areas.” By persevering with to gather location knowledge, the lawmakers say Google is making a digital divide, since those that can afford iPhones have higher safety in opposition to authorities surveillance.

They closed the letter with this plea:

,[W]e urge you to promptly reform your knowledge assortment and retention practices, in order that Google not collects pointless buyer location knowledge nor retains any non-aggregate location knowledge about particular person prospects, whether or not in identifiable or anonymized type. Google can’t enable its on-line advertising-focused digital infrastructure to be weaponized in opposition to ladies.”

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