Google itself will delete location histories related to abortion

Google will automatically erase certain history related to abortion in the USA, to prevent them from being used to repress abortions.

The disappearance, in the United States, of the protection of the right to abortion at the federal level has triggered serious concern about the personal data collected and stored by digital companies, but also by telecommunications operators. Because these could be claimed by local authorities to punish abortions.

This is the case of period monitoring applications, such as Clue or Stardust, but also of Internet giants, such as Facebook and Google. However, the latter seems to take the measure of the issues, which go beyond the protection of privacy – there are also legal considerations for women wishing to perform a voluntary termination of pregnancy, and public health.

Automatic removal of places related to women’s health

In a message published on July 1, the Mountain View company announces a change in the location history. For people who have enabled this setting – which is disabled by default on a Google account – there will be ” in the coming weeks » an automatic deletion of certain visits to places that concern women’s health.

This includes counseling centers, domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics, fertility centers, addiction treatment centers, weight loss clinics, cosmetic surgery clinics. Google suggests that this is not an exhaustive list. Other establishments may be added later.

The data of Internet users that the platforms keep pose a risk today in the event of an increased repression of abortion in the United States. // Source: Screenshot

This provision is likely to benefit many women across the Atlantic, given the popularity of Google’s services – such as Maps for finding an address. It is added to the options already included in Google, which allow you to manually delete certain entries or to request their deletion after a while.

But this additional protection, which comes on top of two other reminders from Google (on user data protections in apps and on Google’s stringent requirements about government requests for user data to rule out certain requests deemed excessive or too broad), deals only with the consequences.

The causes have not yet been addressed. And these are the foundation on which companies like Google and Facebook have built their activities: the collection, processing and storage of personal data. However, the judgment of the Supreme Court illustrates in a critical way to what extent this mass of information is likely to turn against the individuals themselves.

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A pregnant woman // Source: Wikimedia Commons

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