The Roe v. Wade raises concerns over location data collection

INRIX, a company that provides location-based data analytics, has been collecting, analyzing and selling aggregate vehicle, traffic and parking data for over 17 years. Now after the Roe vs. Wade decision, INRIX is under scrutiny for its data collection tactics and ability to display data related to Planned Parenthood clinics. In a brochure for its “Vehicle Trips” product, INRIX details that it “captures over 150 million anonymous rides” and 36 billion “real-time data points” every day, with updates too. frequent than every three seconds.

Using only the free trial version of the INRIX IQ Location Analytics platform, a user can locate at least 71 Planned Parenthood clinics in many states. The free version of this platform only lists the address, hours, and annual average daily traffic on nearby streets for each clinic, but the paid version displays more detailed statistics for sample POIs in its database, including demographic and ethnic breakdowns of visitors. , hourly and daily visitor counts, aggregated heatmaps of visitor origins and destinations, and travel times to and from the business location.

While this type of data collection, availability, and accessibility may seem problematic in today’s reproductive rights legal landscape, INRIX has publicly stated that it only receives anonymized data and further de-identifies it if necessary, before aggregate this data for use in its products. According to INRIX, individual identities are not relevant to its business – location analytics only show results based on census block group level and data is sourced from map providers, which are commercially available .

Other location-based data analytics companies, such as Safegraph and Placer. AI, also had Planned Parenthood visitor data in its products, but that data was removed. Even some Internet search engines have pledged to remove visitor location data when a user visits an abortion provider, fertility center, or other sensitive reproductive health location.

The problem with this collection and sharing of data, while only including location-based data, arises when people seeking abortions face increased risks to their privacy, and potentially, their own safety and security. their well-being. Prior to the recent overthrow of Roe vs. Wade, pro-life activists have used software and services such as location data industry geofencing to deter abortion-seeking patients with targeted ads. With the procedure criminalized in nine states, the effects could be even more impactful.

As a result of this data collection and use, lawmakers have sent letters to these location data companies to gather details about their data collection and to ask them to stop including abortion clinics in their platforms and their reports.

Although most of the data in the free version of the INRIX dashboard is aggregated, risks remain. Most companies in the location data industry boast that individuals’ privacy is protected because they only sell aggregated data (eg, the number of people visiting a particular business in a specific week). However, even aggregated data could pose risks to the privacy of individuals, as individuals could still be identified under certain circumstances. If location data shows that a particular user frequents a central location (e.g., home or work) while visiting a family planning clinic, it may be easier than you think to determine who that person is. .

Copyright © 2022 Robinson & Cole LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 202

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