Material that requires attention. This image can be offensive or confusing. Abortion protesters suggest that the Supreme Court’s decision on May 14, 2022, Roe v. Wade abortion in New York City, USA, may be overturned. Following the leak of opinion, we will participate in a national demonstration.
Caitlin Ochs | Reuters
Friday’s Supreme Court decision to roll back the right to an abortion It raises new questions about whether and how tech companies should protect the information of users seeking assisted reproductive technology.
Technology companies may have to deal with such health care-related user privacy issues, whether they wish or not. This is the case when the court orders you to pass certain types of data, such as the location information, search history, text messages, etc. of an abortion clinic user.
Even before the decision is official, lawmakers Was called Google And that Federal Trade Commission To ensure that the data of online consumers seeking care is protected if the groundbreaking Roe v. Wade decision is overturned.The letter is Politico’s report on leaked drafts Decision to reduce protection.
The official decision will put the online platform in a tricky place. Large high-tech companies have spoken about political issues in line with their values, such as advocating certain types of privacy laws and immigration reforms to protect the workforce, but they are as controversial as the right to abortion. Stepping into the problem can lead to significant backlash from both aspects of the debate.
Defenders of those seeking abortion and those charged after experiencing a miscarriage say they are already addressing privacy concerns in states where abortion laws are restricted.
“As we’ve seen, tech companies expect to be issued subpoenas for people’s search history and information,” said a nonprofit organization that legally defends pregnant women. Dana Sussman, Deputy Managing Director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, said. Man.
Corynne McSherry, Director of Legal for the Nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), said: “When you create a huge database of information, you’re like a honeypot that law enforcement agencies come to you. They think you’re a third party and can help you prosecute. If so, we will try to get that information. “
A group of democrats led by Senator Ron Weiden of Oregon and Anna Eshu of California told Google last month that “the current practice of collecting and holding extensive records of mobile phone location data has led to the reproduction of mobile phone location data. A tool for the far-right militants trying to crack down on medical seekers, which Google stores historical location information about hundreds of millions of smartphone users and regularly shares with government agencies. Because. “
Data privacy experts, concerned about the impact of court rulings, say there are ways for both tech companies and their users to better protect their information in the post-Roe era.
Sasman pointed out two cases that could foresee how prosecutors after the Roe v. Wade case would try to use digital communications as evidence of an abortion crime.
Thousands of people protest abortion in Washington State, USA on January 21, 2022.
Yasin Ozturk | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
The first is in 2015 20 years in prison After being accused of murder and child neglect, after allegedly inducing her own abortion. Patel told a doctor in the Indiana emergency room that she had a miscarriage and was stillborn. The prosecution used text between Patel and her friends as evidence against her, including a discussion about ordering pharmacy pills intended to induce her abortion.
2016, Court of Appeals Reduce the severity of chargesFinding the law was not intended to be used against women for their own abortion, and Patel has been released From prison when her sentence was also reduced.
The second case is Ratic Fisher, She was charged with a second murder by a Mississippi grand jury in 2018 after giving birth to her lawyer saying she was stillborn. Her prosecutor used Fisher’s search history, including her search for abortion drugs and the induction of miscarriage, as evidence for her, as reported at the time. The district attorney later withdrew the indictment.
Roe v. Wade and Planned Parent-Child Relationships When the protection provided by Casey is revoked, another case that generally upheld the right to abortion applies to “pregnant behavior, including miscarriage and self.” There are existing laws that have been reinterpreted to expand for “-managed abortion, Sasman said.
Many supporters of abortion law say that the provider of the procedure should be the focus, but Sasman predicts that prosecutors will inevitably follow those who seek service.
“I don’t think it’s realistic,” Sasman said of the idea that abortion bans don’t target pregnant people. “And I don’t think it’s accurate at all, because we’ve already seen it, and when you make a law to prove that a fetus is a person, you criminalize a pregnant person. There is no doubt about it. “
For tech platforms, EFF has recently Blog post Minimizing the collection and storage of data minimizes the risk that it will be investigated. The group suggests that companies reduce behavior tracking, narrow down the types of data they collect to just what they need, and encrypt the data by default so that others can’t easily read it. ..
The EFF also says that it is an inappropriate request, such as requesting information on search terms such as “abortion” from search engines and ensuring that data is ordered on all devices in the region, such as abortion clinics. Encourage companies to postpone. If the request still needs to be met, the company should at least notify the user about them, if it is not prohibited, the group writes.
“I think companies are a little quieter, but I’m sure they’re thinking about it,” McSherry said.
“The technology platform has a major role to play here,” Sasman said. Sasman said companies should use vast resources to challenge court orders seeking information related to abortion and miscarriage cases.
“In reality, the public prosecutor’s office has some resources,” Sasman said. “And if they think that the best way to use resources to improve the quality of life of the community is to fight to get the digital footprint of pregnant people, they have those resources. You have to spend. You don’t have unlimited resources. Therefore, if technology companies can make access to this information much more difficult, they will play a major role in hampering their ability to bring about these charges. . “
The Meta Platforms logo will be seen on May 22, 2022 in Davos, Switzerland.
Arnd Wiegmann | Reuters
Spokesman Facebook parent meta The company has already pushed back an overly widespread demand for information, saying Government Request Policy It states that “requests that appear excessively broad or ambiguous may be rejected or demanded for more specificity.” The policy also stipulates that Meta will notify you when a user or advertiser receives such a request, unless prohibited from doing so.
Many tech companies may tend to be as politically neutral as possible, but McSherry said, “Whatever the problem, companies should always stand up for their users with privacy. It’s an opportunity for them to do that. “
McSherry expects tech companies to encourage employees to do more, just like any other problem, if they don’t take steps to protect the information of users seeking abortions.
Minimizing the collection and retention of their data by companies is the clearest way to reduce the risk of their data being exposed, but experts focused on monitoring and digital rights are consumers. He says there are several ways you can reduce your risk yourself.
It’s important to remember that “privacy is a community activity,” McSherry said. This means that consumers need to consider not only the privacy and security of their devices and services, but also the privacy and security of their friends, family and providers with whom they communicate.
This is because even under existing state law, such as Texas, prosecutors may seek warrants for information from third parties who believe they may have helped in some way in finding an abortion. ..
“Once again, the responsibility for protecting yourself from injustice crimes rests with the people with the fewest resources themselves,” Sasman said. “Also, just be careful not to share information with many people. This is also very difficult if you need the support of family, friends and the community. But people are very intentional to whom. They share information because not only is the digital footprint an issue, but the people who have the information can also be involved here in some way. “
Although EFF does not recommend any particular product, McSherry has suggested some basic ways for users to enhance the privacy protection of their data.
One is to use a search engine or browser that minimizes data collection or retention by default, such as DuckDuckGo, Firefox, Brave, and a private browsing window that doesn’t save your search history.
Second, consumers need to communicate sensitive information only through encrypted messaging services such as Signal.
EFF is also Blog post Set secondary email addresses and phone numbers for communications that users don’t want to connect too closely About protecting sensitive information. They point out Protonmail and Tutanota as two email service providers that offer powerful privacy services, and Google Voice as an option for creating spare phone numbers.
The group also recommends browsing the Internet on virtual private networks. This can mask your computer’s IP address. We also recommend that you install browser extensions that can enhance your privacy, disable advertising identifiers on your mobile device, and enable location services only when needed. The EFF said it might make sense to turn off the device completely to minimize location tracking when visiting sensitive locations where surveillance may have been enhanced. I’m adding.
McSherry predicts that updated data privacy concerns arising from court decisions could have a far greater impact on how consumers think more broadly about privacy protection.
“I think most people haven’t really thought about law enforcement aspects so far,” McSherry said. “Most people think,’Well, those warrants will probably only get used to the bad guys’ … but not always, but now to millions of people. I think this situation, which turns out to be influential, will lead to a reset in people’s thinking about data privacy in general … I think it’s just a good thing. “