Facebook and Google are handing over user data to help police prosecute abortion seekers

MAR 5, 2023

As abortion bans across the nation are implemented and enforced, law enforcement is turning to social media platforms to build cases to prosecute women seeking abortions or abortion-inducing medication – and online platforms like Google and Facebook are helping.

This spring, a woman named Jessica Burgess and her daughter will stand trial in Nebraska for performing an illegal abortion — with a key piece of evidence provided by Meta, the parent company of Facebook. Burgess allegedly helped her daughter find and take pills that would induce an abortion. The teenage Burgess also faces charges for allegedly illegally disposing of the fetus' remains.

Continued: https://www.businessinsider.in/tech/news/facebook-and-google-are-handing-over-user-data-to-help-police-prosecute-abortion-seekers/articleshow/98423158.cms

USA – Human Rights Watch Letter Concerning the Use of Federal Aid in Abortion Surveillance

Letter Concerning the Use of Federal Aid in Abortion Surveillance

Human Rights Watch
December 8, 2022

Dear President Biden, We the undersigned civil and human rights, civil liberties, and reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations write to express our concern that existing forms of federal assistance to state and local law enforcement will be used to support state and local surveillance and investigations of reproductive health activities. We urge you to take steps to prevent this.

Your Administration has expressed its strong commitment to protecting access to reproductive health care, including abortion, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. The White House has declared that it is “committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion.”[1] As part of its effort to defend access to abortion and other reproductive health care, federal resources should in no way aid or supplement states' criminal investigations of reproductive health decisions. Several states have already taken action to prevent their own state resources from being used in such a matter.[2]

Continued: https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/12/08/letter-concerning-use-federal-aid-abortion-surveillance

How Period-Tracking Apps Can Be Weaponized by Pro-Life Advocates

With Roe v. Wade overturned in the US, menstruation apps have become a new concern in the fight for abortion rights. Do they pose the same risk in Canada?

Dec. 5, 2022

ON MAY 2, a draft opinion of the US Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade—thus permitting states to outlaw abortion—was leaked. Social media immediately filled with posts about the impact of this new reality. These concerns included the safety of our digital data.

Users who had downloaded period-tracking apps on their phones were urged to delete them. The most popular of these apps—Flo, based in the UK, and Clue, created in Berlin—are free to download and track not only your next period but also your most fertile days of the month. In fact, depending on the information entered, the apps can predict the intensity of your menstrual flow, even your specific PMS symptoms. The fear is that such apps can also reveal when you’ve missed a period—effectively pointing to a possible pregnancy. In a post-Roe world, app users were worried their personal cycle information could be used to prosecute them. This fear is based in fact. Even before Roe was overturned, browser history was vulnerable to investigation. When, in 2017, a Mississippi woman experienced an almost-full-term stillbirth at home, prosecutors used the search history on her phone as part of their pregnancy termination case against her—and a grand jury indicted her for second-degree murder. (The case was dropped three years later.)

Continued: https://thewalrus.ca/how-period-tracking-apps-can-be-weaponized-in-the-fight-against-abortion/

USA – Googling abortion? Your details aren’t as private as you think

Johana Bhuiyan in New York
Tue 29 Nov 2022

In the wake of the US supreme court’s overturning of Roe v Wade, Google pledged fresh policies to protect people’s abortion-related data. But new research has shown the way our location and other personal data is stored remains largely unchanged, raising fears that intimate details of a person’s abortion search could be used to penalize them.

Google responds to tens of thousands of requests each year from law enforcement agencies seeking access to the vast troves of data collected on its users. In one six-month period in 2021, the most recent data publicly available, Google received nearly 47,000 law enforcement requests, affecting more than 100,000 accounts, and responded with some amount of data to 80% of them. The Dobbs decision sparked concerns that such data could be used to prosecute people seeking abortions in states where it is banned – for instance, if they searched for or traveled to an abortion clinic.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/nov/29/abortion-rights-us-google-roe-dobbs

There’s a new surveillance state – and women are the target

Period tracking apps, car licence plate data and pregnancy registers are the latest tools experts warn are being harnessed to monitor women

7 October 2022

Surveillance data and technology are being exploited to stoke fear and prevent abortions in countries including the United States, China, Hungary and Poland.

Period tracking apps, car licence plate data and pregnancy registers are the latest tools activists warn are being harnessed to stop women using legal or geographic loopholes for terminations. All four countries have reversed abortion rights over the past two years.

Continued: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/women-and-girls/new-abortion-surveillance-state-keeping-tabs-women/

Nebraska – Facebook gave police their private data. Now, this duo face abortion charges

Experts say it underscores the importance of encryption and minimizing the amount of user data tech companies can store
Johana Bhuiyan
Wed 10 Aug 2022

In the wake of the supreme court’s upheaval of Roe v Wade, tech workers and privacy advocates expressed concerns about how the user data tech companies stored could be used against people seeking abortions.

When a Facebook staffer posed the dilemma to the chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, asking how the platform would protect the user data of individuals seeking abortion care, Zuckerberg said the company’s ongoing push to encrypt messaging would help protect people from “bad behavior or over-broad requests for information”.


USA – ‘Lock it down right now’: Abortion rights advocates prepare for a new wave of digital security threats

Advocates and abortion providers are reassessing their digital security practices ahead of an expected rise in cyberattacks and surveillance.


Abortion rights groups are using software that protects privacy and are honing other strategies to combat digital threats that they expect will worsen in a post-Roe world.

Those efforts are gaining new urgency as a looming Supreme Court ruling threatens to open a new wave of security threats for people seeking abortions and their health care providers.


Facebook and Anti-Abortion Clinics Are Collecting Highly Sensitive Info on Would-Be Patients

by Grace Oldham and Dhruv Mehrotra
June 15, 2022

Facebook is collecting ultra-sensitive personal data about abortion seekers and enabling anti-abortion organizations to use that data as a tool to target and influence people online, in violation of its own policies and promises.

In the wake of a leaked Supreme Court opinion signaling the likely end of nationwide abortion protections, privacy experts are sounding alarms about all the ways people’s data trails could be used against them if some states criminalize abortion.


USA – Looming abortion law changes are pushing clinics to take a look at digital privacy

Some clinic employees say they are embracing encrypted messaging apps and Zoom meetings to leave less of an electronic paper trail.

June 8, 2022
By Kevin Collier

With the Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that enshrined the constitutional right to abortion nearly 50 years ago, some abortion providers are rushing to take precautions to guard their communications and their patients’ data, fearing that the information could be used in future prosecutions.

Others are already a step ahead of them. Mia Raven, the director of policy at the West Alabama Women’s Center, said her clinic runs almost exclusively on paper. It’s a strategy she said is meant to ensure patient privacy.

Continued: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/abortion-clinics-providers-digital-privacy-roe-overturn-rcna30654

Enforcing Criminal Abortion Bans Post-Roe: ‘A Massive Escalation of Surveillance’

by CARRIE N. BAKER, Ms. Magazine

New York-based privacy group Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.) released a chilling report last month detailing the digital surveillance threats facing pregnant women who seek abortion information and services, and how these threats could escalate dramatically if the Supreme Court repeals abortion rights and states criminalize abortion.

“Police, prosecutors and private anti-abortion litigants will weaponize existing American surveillance infrastructure to target pregnant people and use their health data against them in a court of law,” according to the report, titled “Pregnancy Panopticon: Abortion Surveillance After Roe.” “This isn’t speculation—it’s already happening.”

Continued: https://msmagazine.com/2022/06/07/police-abortion-bans-roe-v-wade-surveillance/