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Google deletes location history for US abortion clinic visits

Following requests to reduce the amount of information it gathers, Google has declared that when users visit abortion clinics or domestic violence shelters, their location data will be deleted. ‘ If our systems determine that someone has visited one of these areas, we will erase these records from Location History shortly after they visit,’¬†said Jen Fitzpatrick, a senior vice president at Google, in a blog post. ‘This modification will be implemented in the next weeks.’

When users visit sites where privacy is desired, such as fertility clinics, addiction treatment facilities, and weight reduction clinics, Google will also remove their location data. Following the US Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw abortion, campaigners and politicians have urged tech companies to restrict the amount of data they gather in order to avoid law enforcement using it for abortion investigations and prosecutions.

‘Google has a long history of resisting unduly broad demands from law enforcement,’ Fitzpatrick wrote. ‘ We consider people’s privacy and security expectations while developing our products, and we tell them when we meet government requirements.’¬† In May, a group of senior Democratic legislators wrote to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, asking him to cease collecting smartphone location data lest it becomes ‘a weapon for far-right extremists aiming to crack down on those seeking reproductive health care’.

 

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