GOOGLE has plans to erase certain users’ web history – here’s what you need to know.
On Friday, the tech giant revealed that it would delete user data that indicates a person traveled to an abortion center.
This new protocol comes immediately after the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade was overturned.
“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,” Google’s senior vice president Jen Fitzpatrick wrote in a company blog post.
“This change will take effect in the coming weeks.”
Google said this new policy is in an effort to protect people’s privacy, which they added is “core to [their] work”.
Google has long collected users’ data, but now federal prosecutors may use this information to target anyone who’s had or sought an abortion, per Futurism.
In fact, two such cases already exist – one in Mississippi and one in Indiana, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.
Authorities used search history information in both cases to prosecute two women over pregnancy-related charges.
And now privacy experts are warning that this type of scenario is going to be more common in a Post-Roe world.
The problem with search history…
In the aforementioned Mississippi case, the courts used the woman’s web search for abortion pills to charge her, despite there being no evidence that she took the pills.
“Lots of people Google about abortion and then choose to carry out their pregnancies,” Laurie Bertram Roberts, a spokeswoman for one of the women charged told the Washington Post.
“Thought crimes are not the thing. You’re not supposed to be able to be indicted on a charge of what you thought about.”
GOOGLE noted that one of the big issues it’s hoping to tackle with this new change is “improper government demands for data.”
“We will continue to oppose demands that are overly broad or otherwise legally objectionable,” the company said.
While Google’s latest move is considered a step in the right direction by experts, it’s unclear how the company plans to respond to requests from law enforcement going forward.
Furthermore, GOOGLE didn’t specify whether it plans to notify users of data requests made by authorities.
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