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Google vows to delete location history for abortion clinic visits

Google will help protect the privacy of those that travel to abortion clinics.

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The recent overturning of Roe v. Wade will have massive ramifications for women around the country. With abortions to soon become either illegal or more difficult to perform in multiple states, many will need to travel across state lines to seek the care they need. As a company that tracks a plethora of user data, including geographical location, Google has announced that it will delete location history for users that travel to get an abortion.

Google’s senior VP of core systems and experiences Jen Fitzpatrick announced the company’s new initiative last Friday, days after the Supreme Court ruled to strike down Roe v. Wade, which previously protected abortions as a constitutional right.

“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,” she said in the announcement. With the understanding that people will now have to travel to visit abortion clinics, there are already concerns about potential legal repercussions for doing so.

Jen Fitzpatrick, Google's VP of core systems and experiences.
Jen Fitzpatrick, Google's VP of core systems and experiences.

There are also significant concerns surrounding privacy following the Supreme Court ruling. The decision to get an abortion can be incredibly personal, and Google’s system automatically removing those visits from location history will help users to protect their privacy. Google also spoke about the Fitbit, which can be used to track menstrual cycles in its users. “Fitbit users who have chosen to track their menstrual cycles in the app can currently delete menstruation logs one at a time, and we will be rolling out updates that let users delete multiple logs at once.”

Multiple tech companies have announced their efforts to help employees and users in the face of the Roe v Wade strikedown. Disney, Netflix, and Paramount were among several companies that confirmed they would cover travel costs for workers that need to go out of state for the health care they need.

News Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

From The Chatty
  • reply
    July 5, 2022 10:00 AM

    Donovan Erskine posted a new article, Google vows to delete location history for abortion clinic visits

    • reply
      July 5, 2022 10:03 AM

      So they vow to break the law.

      • reply
        July 5, 2022 10:31 AM

        How is it illegal?

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          July 5, 2022 11:02 AM

          i believe it's in the constitution "thou shalt allow google to track your location at all times", I probably got the wording wrong you may have trouble finding it based on my wording

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            July 5, 2022 12:34 PM

            He’s Canadian. He should be thankful they don’t have anything approaching those kinds of “laws”.

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            July 5, 2022 5:34 PM

            The framers of the Constitution thought of everything! lol

      • reply
        July 5, 2022 10:58 AM

        lol what a terrible post

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        July 5, 2022 11:01 AM

        Nothing illegal about deleting log data.

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        July 5, 2022 12:29 PM

        I don't think so, but if the law is unjust I have zero issues with that.

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          July 5, 2022 1:22 PM

          Fair point, it wasn't an argument for their morality

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            July 5, 2022 3:04 PM

            It is a valid way to frame the problem, in a way.

            For the middle of the road male population (mostly but not exclusively white), the past decade or two have given them more rights overall and less need to break the law, particularly in just smoking a doobie. Just a little thing but not if you think about how much people had to creep around in fear over a joint. And that was just to get high and amuse yourself.

            Now in one fell swoop, a tremendous number of women will have to break the law to just protect their lives and health, with much more severe consequences on either side of the choice than a joint could ever cause (unless you’re black).

            So it’s very valid from a woman’s point of view to think men have been handed a carrot to help them forget what it’s like to have breaking the law hanging over their heads constantly. We need more empathy and solidarity, not less, and sometimes it feels like men have worse attitudes about our needs than ever.

            Men are really going to have to dig deep to hold onto their sense of humanity towards others, when society is being actively set up by evil fascists to seemingly work in their favor, even if it’s just a lulling delusion. If you care about women, y’all are going to have to get used to being on the wrong side of very wrong laws.

      • reply
        July 5, 2022 12:32 PM

        Why do you hate women?

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          July 5, 2022 12:32 PM

          The what now.

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            July 5, 2022 12:41 PM

            Between this and that tone deaf Asian menopause post yesterday, it feels like someone hijacked your account. 👀

            But frankly, just so you know, this is what I am saying to all men who aren’t fully outraged at our current abrogation of bodily rights. I know they probably don’t think they hate women because they love their mom and wife and female friends, but it’s a way of shocking them out of their complacency and making them think more deeply about their position and willingness to help us. At this point women will not be able to overcome becoming slaves of the state without men joining in and fighting with us for our right to our bodies.

            So nothing personal. Just spend some time thinking about where you fit in.

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              July 6, 2022 2:52 AM

              "it’s a way of shocking them out of their complacency and making them think more deeply about their position and willingness to help us"

              No, that never happens, you may think you're making a difference but people who hold these extreme opinions rarely if ever change their minds.

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        July 5, 2022 9:39 PM

        Fuck any law that demands to know this information.

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          July 5, 2022 10:38 PM

          100%

          but that doesn't mean those laws don't exist and that shirif is a woman hater...

          Frum (not a fan in any way but his articles are well written) wrote about how banning abortion is similar to prohibition and that it'll cause a massive backlash and wouldn't take as long to repeal as prohibition did.

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      July 5, 2022 11:05 AM

      Google: How can we make this nuanced and polarizing topic about Google? I got it, first we determine if you went to a clinic, then we advertise to everyone that we will delete that time you went, but just from your location history. We'll still know. We always know.

      Predatory and gross.

      • reply
        July 5, 2022 12:33 PM

        I turn my phone off BEFORE I go in the theatre, they will know I saw a movie but they don't know which movie I saw.

        Actually, they can probably guess it is the new Jordan Peele, and they also probably know I got a large popcorn with extra layered butter and a cola Icee. Sell my info bitches!

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      July 5, 2022 11:38 AM

      Whew this makes me feel so much better about Google tracking my every move

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      July 5, 2022 12:36 PM

      Wait, so law enforcement can use Google's tracking data in every other instance? Is that the implication here?

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        July 5, 2022 12:55 PM

        Uh, yeah? They’ve been doing it for years.

      • reply
        July 5, 2022 1:27 PM

        Prepare to get mad:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-party_doctrine

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        July 5, 2022 1:27 PM

        Of course they can. See also: your search history, your message history, etc. It's a perfect setup. The government cannot legally surveil you all the time but Google can because you opted in. Now the government can subpoena the surveillance records they need on demand even starting with broad things like 'people who searched for term X around time/place Y'.

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          July 5, 2022 1:35 PM

          And then private companies create tech that the police, with their massive budgets, spend big money on that depend on data from Google et al.

          This is part of why people want to defund the police. The more money they have to spend, the greater the incursion on everyone.

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          July 5, 2022 4:33 PM

          Huge reason why I am so devoted to Apple, and have tried incredibly hard to remove Google from my life.

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            July 5, 2022 5:36 PM

            Apple also complies with requests for data just the same - what they've done differently is to try not to have it in the first place, though.

            But yeah, stuff like AirTag location/registration I think they keep for 3-4 weeks, and it can be queried if you have a specific device.

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              July 5, 2022 6:33 PM

              yeah also if you have iCloud backup of your phone (you should) then the iCloud backup is not encrypted by default and also contains the decryption key for your iMessages (rendering the end to end encryption of your iMessages moot if law enforcement wants to take a look).

              Your location is also important. Apple somewhat recently relocated all Chinese customer data to data centers in China to comply with local laws that give the CCP easier access to data on demand. Privacy is ultimately subservient to profits.

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      July 5, 2022 9:07 PM

      Are we allowed to comment on political articles when they are posted by shacknews?

      I'm glad they are doing this, and dismayed that there is a need to.

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