Google should limit collection of location data to protect abortion seekers, US lawmakers say

By Brian Fung, CNN

Dozens of Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday urged Google to limit the amount of location data it collects and maintains about its users, fearing the information could be used against abortion seekers.

In a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, led by Democratic Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, more than 40 US senators and congressmen said Google risks allowing “right-wing prosecutors to identify people who have obtained abortions” because of its practice as a gathering place. information of people using its services and products.

“We fear that in a world where abortion may be made illegal, Google’s current practice of collecting and maintaining extensive records of cellphone location data will allow it to become a tool for extreme extremists. right that seek to crack down on people seeking reproductive health care,” the lawmakers wrote.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tuesday’s letter follows a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade and would confirm the ability of state lawmakers to pass laws criminalizing abortion. Civil liberties and reproductive rights advocates have warned that requests for data by law enforcement, submitted to technology platforms, could facilitate a crackdown on abortion seekers and potentially those who help them.

On Tuesday, lawmakers called on Google to scale back its practices so that it “no longer collects unnecessary location data about customers or retains disaggregated location data about individual customers.”

“There is no law requiring Google to collect and maintain records of every movement of its customers,” the letter continues. “Apple has shown that it is not necessary for smartphone manufacturers to maintain invasive tracking databases of their customers’ locations. Google’s intentional choice to do so creates a new digital divide, in which privacy and security become a luxury.

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