Google will automatically erase information about users who visit abortion clinics or other places that could pose legal problems now that the US Supreme Court has opened the door for states to ban termination of pregnancy.
The company behind the internet’s dominant search engine and Android software that powers most of the world’s smartphones outlined new privacy safeguards in a blog post on Friday.
Besides automatically removing visits to abortion clinics, Google also listed counseling centers, fertility centers, addiction treatment centers, weight loss clinics, and plastic surgery clinics as other destinations. which will be erased from users’ location records. Users have always had the ability to change their location records themselves, but Google will proactively do this for them as an added layer of protection.
“We are committed to providing strong privacy protections to people who use our products, and we will continue to look for new ways to strengthen and improve that protection,” Google senior vice president Jane Fitzpatrick wrote in the blog post.
A Google spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions from Reuters about how the company determines such visits or whether all relevant data will be erased from its servers.
The company’s pledge comes amid growing pressure on Google and other big tech companies to do more to protect the collection of sensitive personal information through their digital services and products from government authorities and law enforcement agencies. other third parties.
Calls for stricter privacy controls have been prompted by the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade of 1973 which guaranteed constitutional protections for abortion. The rollback could make abortion illegal in more than a dozen states, raising the specter of people’s location records, texts, searches and emails being used in lawsuits for abortion proceedings. abortion or even to obtain the necessary medical care in the event of an abortion.
Like other tech companies, Google receives thousands of government requests for digital user records each year as part of its misconduct investigations. Google says it resists search warrants and other requests that are too generic or seem unfounded.