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Google to remove location data on future abortions – The Hollywood Reporter

Google announced Friday that it plans to delete location history data “immediately” after users visit medical facilities, including abortion clinics.

The news, which the tech company published in a blog post also includes how it will also handle user data on apps, following a June 24 ruling by the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

“Some of the places people visit – these include medical facilities such as counseling centres, domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics, fertility centers, addiction treatment facilities, clinics weight loss, plastic surgery clinics and other places – can be exceptionally personal,” Jen Fitzpatrick, SVP of Core Systems at Google, wrote in the post. “We’re announcing today that if our system determines that someone has visited one of these locations, we’ll remove these entries from Location History shortly after they visited. “

The announcement also confirms that the change will go into effect in the coming weeks, and notes that users who previously enabled location history have the ability to automatically delete some or all of their data. The post also addressed concerns around tech companies’ collection of health, fertility and menstrual data.

“For Google Fit and Fitbit, we provide users with settings and tools to easily access and control their personal data, including the option to change and delete any personal information. when,” a post by subsidiary Alphabet Inc.

Reproductive health, abortion and privacy experts and advocates noted in the week after Roe’s flipped that data from certain reproductive health-tracking apps could be used to survey, identify and help arrest women in states where abortion is illegal. Dr Gina Neff, director of the Center for Minderoo Technology and Democracy at the University of Cambridge, tweeted to “Delete those fertility apps now” and in an interview with New York Timessays apps containing “powerful information about reproductive choices are now a threat.”

Referring specifically to cycle tracking, the post notes that Fitbit users “who have chosen to track their menstrual cycles in the app” can delete individual menstrual logs. The announcement also confirms that Google plans to release updates that will allow users to “delete multiple logs at once.”

“Google Play has strict protocols in place to protect user privacy – including policies that forbid developers from selling sensitive and personal user data and require them to process it responsibly. securely and only for purposes directly related to operating the application,” according to Fitzpatrick’s blog post.

Friday’s statement did not directly confirm whether Google refused to comply with requests from US law enforcement, courts or prosecutors about users’ health information. Some cycle-tracking apps like Clue, which is based in Europe, have issued statements confirming that they will not because “a US court or other competent authority may override” the law. privacy of Europe and “cannot simply be” subpoena data from the US “because we are not based in the US”)

It offers users the aforementioned “extra steps” to protect user privacy around health issues, and notes that the company has “long supported comprehensive and nationwide privacy legislation.” of the United States to ensure protection for all.”

“We understand that people rely on Google to keep their personal data secure. We have been committed to doing this work for a long time,” the post reads.

The Hollywood Reporter Contacted Google for comment.

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