Senators have asked Apple and Google to stop Collecting Data on Abortion Seeking

Senators have asked Apple and Google to stop Collecting Data on Abortion Seeking

The group asserted that the tech behemoths "must" take action to protect people exercising their right to choose.

Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts is leading a group of senators asking on Apple and Google to enact new app store regulations prohibiting companies from gathering data that could threaten women seeking abortions. The group said the two internet titans "must" act to protect persons exercising their right to choose from groups that would attack them for their decision in separate letters submitted to the CEOs of both businesses. "We are concerned that anti-abortion prosecutors and other actors will attempt to access and leverage personal information – including data regarding location, online activity, health, and biometrics – in ways that threaten the wellbeing of those exercising their right to choose," the letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai states. The group worries that abortion prosecutors and "even vigilantes" could use these techniques to scare women seeking abortions or harass them retroactively, citing the popularity of online platforms selling user information to data brokers. The letters were also signed by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The letters come after a separate appeal earlier this week from Congressional Democrats, who urged Google to stop collecting location data due to many of the same concerns. It's not a far-fetched possibility that numerous groups, including law enforcement authorities, could use app data as a weapon. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has built up a mass surveillance system that includes information on practically all US residents, according to a recent report from Georgetown Law's Center for Privacy and Technology. It did so in part by purchasing data from commercial corporations. Senators have given Pichai and Tim Cook until June 17th to answer to the letters. "We are concerned that anti-abortion prosecutors and other actors will attempt to access and leverage personal information—including data regarding location, online activity, health, and biometrics—in ways that threaten the wellbeing of those exercising their right to choose," the senators say(Opens in a new window) following the leak of the Supreme Court's draught opinion overturning Roe v. Wade," they say(Opens in a new window). The letters were submitted to Pichai and Cook on May 27 by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ). Except for particular references to the Google Play Store and the App Store, the letters are identical. "Should the Supreme Court reverse Roe v. Wade," the senators warn, "anti-abortion prosecutors and even vigilantes may be able to utilize online data mining from apps" on the businesses' platforms "to prevent persons from receiving abortion services or to target them retrospectively." They urge Pichai and Cook to protect their users from data mining by forbidding it.
Back to blog