Google to remove user location history when visiting US abortion clinics

Google announced on Friday that it will delete users’ location history when they visit abortion clinics, domestic violence shelters and other places where privacy is required.

“If our systems detect that someone has visited one of these locations, we will remove these records from location history shortly after visiting them,” Google Senior Vice President Jen Fitzpatrick wrote in a blog post. “This change will take effect in the coming weeks.”

Other places Google won’t store location data from include fertility centers, addiction treatment centers, and weight loss clinics.

The announcement comes a week after the U.S. Supreme Court made a tectonic decision to strip American women of their constitutional rights to abortion, leading to a ban or severe restriction on the procedure in a dozen states and sparking massive protests across the country.

Activists and politicians are calling on Google and other tech giants to limit the amount of information they collect to prevent law enforcement from using it to investigate and prosecute abortion.

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Fitzpatrick also sought to reassure users that the company takes data privacy seriously.

“Google has a long history of rejecting overly broad law enforcement demands, including outright objecting to some requirements,” she wrote.

“We consider the privacy and security expectations of people using our products, and we notify people when we comply with government requirements.”

Concerns about smartphone data and reproductive rights predate the Supreme Court’s decision, when several conservative US states passed laws in recent months giving members of the public the right to sue doctors who perform abortions or those who assist them.

That prompted a group of senior Democratic lawmakers in May to send a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking them to stop collecting smartphone location data so they don’t become “a tool for far-right extremists seeking to crack down on people seeking reproductive health.” . ”

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