A group of more than 40 Democratic members of Congress has asked Google to stop collecting and retain’unnecessary’ location data. The group of Congress is concerned that Google could be used to prosecute people who have obtained abortions.
The request was made in a letter sent to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Tuesday. Members of the house and Senate, led by Senator Ron Wyden (d-or) and included Ayanna Pressley, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Alexandria ocasio-cortez.
Google’s current practice of collecting and keeping extensive records of cell phone location data will allow it to become a tool for far-right extremists.’we believe that abortion is health care,’ the letter states.
Geofence warrants have been criticized for their use in the investigation of protesters during Black lives matter demonstrations. Data released by Google showed a pronounced spike from 2018 to 2020.
Geofence data is only available after a court-issued warrant. More than 20 states are preparing to outlaw abortion as soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned.
The letter asks that Google redesign its location data collection practices so that device data is only collected at an aggregate level, rather than on an individual basis. The letter also contrasts Google’s location data policy with Apple’s decision to minimize location data retention.
A draft opinion was leaked on May 3rd suggesting that the Supreme Court intends to overturn Roe v. Wade. Many have raised concerns that digital surveillance technology could be used to prosecute people who seek out abortions.
Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the surveillance technology oversight project, welcomed the letter. In a statement, he said Google should delete its location data or be’complicit in criminalizing abortion’.
There’s no way for Texas to station state police at every out-of-state abortion clinic, but with data from Google and other companies, they do n’t need to. If tech giants do n’t act soon, we’ll see pregnant people seeking abortion care out of state, only to come home to an arrest warrant.