Google inc. announced Friday that it will delete location data that shows users have visited abortion clinics, citing concerns that digital trails could let law enforcement know whether individuals illegally terminated pregnancies.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that abortion is no longer protected by the Constitution, and state laws began restricting it. The tech industry is concerned that police could gain access to users' search histories, geographic locations and other information revealing pregnancy plans.
"Today, we are announcing that if our systems identify that someone has visited an abortion facility, we will remove those entries from the location history shortly after their visit." Jane Middot, Senior vice president of Core Systems and Experiences, Google; "Jen Fitzpatrick wrote in a blog post.
Fitzpatrick noted that visits to counseling centers, domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics and fertility centers are "especially private." Google owns hugely popular devices and data services, including Android, Fitbit smartwatches, Google Search and Google Maps.
The location history feature on Google's services is turned off by default, but even when it is activated, the company's policy that goes into effect in the coming weeks will quickly erase access to places that many people want to keep secret, the company said. Google will also push an update that will allow Fitbit wearables users who track their periods in the app to delete multiple period logs at once.
Google also said it would continue to fight improper or overly broad government requests for data, but did not explicitly mention abortion. (Author/Xiao Yu)
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