Google will automatically delete your location data after visits to abortion clinics

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For more information about your reproductive health rights and related federal resources, you can visit the US government website. reproductive rights to place.

After the cancellation of Roe v. Wade and the activation of state laws prohibiting abortion, Google has implemented a new protocol to protect user privacy: automatically removing visits to abortion clinics and other sensitive healthcare facilities from location histories. It will begin to take effect in the coming weeks.

The change only affects those who have signed into a Google Account and have Location History turned on, which is turned off by default. from google automatic deletion policy, as explained in a company blog post, covers more than abortion clinics and includes visits to domestic violence shelters, addiction treatment centers and cosmetic surgery clinics. Although personal location data may one day be protected by future national privacy lawsGoogle is not waiting for a solution from Congress.

The tech company’s policy change is an attempt to address concerns that state anti-abortion laws will lead prosecutors and others to use personal data such as Google abortion searches as criminal evidence. . Privacy experts fear law enforcement could force app developers to hand over user data that could suggest an abortion has occurred — such as, for example, from a rule-tracking application. Data miners could siphon off data to hand over to prosecutors or vigilantes, a concern that has prompted some U.S. senators to urge Apple and Google to stop collecting data from apps that could identify abortion seekers.

Although Google does not cite these scenarios as inspiring this new policy, its blog post outlines how people can see what information is collected and shared by apps in the Google Play Store, and reminds readers that it is not always compliant. when law enforcement requires user data. In theory, automatically deleting location data when people visit abortion clinics makes the issue moot, so Google couldn’t hand it over to law enforcement even if forced to. .

Users can manually delete their location history by following Google guidelines. Note that disabling Location History does not delete previous activity, which must be deleted manually. Even after turning off Location History, other Google apps and services like Search and Maps may continue to record your location data.

Apples The Maps app has a different approach to privacy, like the Financial Times’ Patrick McGee pointed outcalled “Location Fuzzing: 24 hours after a location search, Maps converts it to a less precise location. In addition, Apple does not keep a history of searches or places visited, and the data Maps collects while using it is associated with a randomly generated ID that resets each time you open the app.All personal location data exchanged between devices, such as important locations, is end-to-end encrypted.

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