Google To Scrub Location History For Women Who Visit Abortion Clinics

Google To Scrub Location History For Women Who Visit Abortion Clinics

Google announced on Friday that user data for visits to certain facilities, including abortion clinics, will be automatically deleted.

The Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v. Wade — the 1973 decision claiming that the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution protects abortion. In response, Google — a subsidiary of technology conglomerate Alphabet — said in a blog post that “Location History” will be scrubbed after women visit facilities that carry out abortions.

“Some of the places people visit — including medical facilities like counseling centers, domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics, fertility centers, addiction treatment facilities, weight loss clinics, cosmetic surgery clinics, and others — can be particularly personal,” the company said. “Today, we’re announcing that if our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from Location History soon after they visit. This change will take effect in the coming weeks.”

Google accounts for 92% of the global search engine market and processes an estimated 63,000 searches per second, according to data compiled by Hubspot. As of 2021, Alphabet retains more than 156,000 employees.

Likewise, Google users who track their menstrual cycles through platforms like Fitbit “can currently delete menstruation logs one at a time,” while the company will also be “rolling out updates that let users delete multiple logs at once.”

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, several Republican-led states began implementing more regulations on abortion. In response, Google affirmed that the company has a “long track record of pushing back on overly broad demands from law enforcement” and even “objecting to some demands entirely.”

“We take into account the privacy and security expectations of people using our products, and we notify people when we comply with government demands, unless we’re prohibited from doing so or lives are at stake — such as in an emergency situation,” the blog post continued. “We remain committed to protecting our users against improper government demands for data, and we will continue to oppose demands that are overly broad or otherwise legally objectionable.”

As abortion clinics in states like Texas and Louisiana have closed their doors, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has floated opening new facilities on federal lands such as national parks — a proposal rejected by the White House.

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Google Chief People Officer Fiona Cicconi announced in an email obtained by CNBC that employees can apply for relocation to states with fewer regulations for abortion.

“This is a profound change for the country that deeply effects (sic) so many of us, especially women,” Cicconi wrote. “Googlers can also apply for relocation without justification, and those overseeing this process will be aware of the situation.”

“Equity is extraordinarily important to us as a company, and we share concerns about the impact this ruling will have on people’s health, lives and careers,” the email continued. “We will keep working to make information on reproductive healthcare accessible across our products and continue our work to protect user privacy.”

Google joined other major corporations in funding interstate travel to obtain abortions. “To support Googlers and their dependents, our US benefits plan and health insurance covers out-of-state medical procedures that are not available where an employee live and works,” the memo said.

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