Google recently announced that it would erase the users’ location history when they visit abortion clinics, domestic violence shelters, and other places in the US where privacy is sought. The American multinational tech company took the decision after getting concerned about the current legal system in the country regarding abortion. They made it clear that the step was taken to avoid a digital trail that would alert law enforcement if a person illegally terminates a pregnancy.
The change taken by Google will come into force in the coming weeks. “If our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from Location History soon after they visit,” Jen Fitzpatrick, a senior vice president at Google, wrote in a blog post.
As per the official statement, effective in the coming weeks, for those who do use location history, entries showing sensitive places including fertility centers, abortion clinics, and addiction treatment facilities will be deleted soon after a visit. Moreover, Google does not store location data including fertility centers, addiction treatment facilities, and weight loss clinics.
With this decision, Google becomes the first tech company to publicly say how they will handle user data in response to concerns over the court ruling and how it can be weaponized and imposed by law enforcement. Meanwhile, activists and politicians are requesting on Google and other tech giants limit the amount of data collected to prevent law enforcement from using it for abortion investigations and prosecutions.
The auto-deleting feature of google will now be enabled in the states of US where the latest abortion rule is in place. Google also says that it will notify users when it gives their data to the government unless it’s been ordered not to do so or there is a pressing security concern.
On June 24, the US top court ended 50 years of federal abortion rights in the country which is called the Roe v.Wade ruling with a majority voting for killing the abortion law in the country. The Supreme Court overturned the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling defending the right to abortion. States can now make voluntary decisions to legislate to control or ban abortion.