Google has finally released some info about how the company will handle sensitive user data related to abortions.
Following the controversial overturn of Roe v. Wade — which has already caused at least one 10-year-old child to take a risky trip across state lines to seek care — the tech giant said on Friday it will delete user data that confirms a person traveled to an abortion center.
“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.”
Activists have said decisions like these could be important if the government begins seeking personal information in order to charge people who’ve had, sought or facilitated abortions.
In at least two states, authorities have already used search history information to prosecute women.
Just today the Washington Post said police found the phrase “buy Misopristol Abortion Pill Online” in one woman’s search history after they found a deceased and possibly stillborn child in her toilet.
It’s good to know Google is planning to delete location and search history data, but it’s not clear what “soon” after a patient’s visit means exactly, nor how many weeks it will take for the change to go into effect.
No matter what, though, it’s clear online searches are no longer protected if you’re pregnant. Let’s hope more than a singular tech company is willing to protect citizens from a watchful government eye.