Personal data at stake after the abolition of the right to abortion in the United States

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Personal data at stake after the abolition of the right to abortion in the United States

< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">Several people demonstrated against the US Supreme Court's decision on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, who defended the right to abortion nationwide.

Googling a family planning service, chatting with a pregnant friend on Facebook or data on a menstrual cycle tracking application: these are all digital traces that could be used against women and their “accomplices” in the event of abortion in certain American states.

Democrats and human rights groups have called on big tech platforms to better protect personal data, following Friday's US Supreme Court decision to revoke the federal right to privacy. abortion.

The difference between today and the last time abortion was illegal in the United States is that we live in an era of unprecedented online surveillance, reacted on Twitter Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the NGO Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

If tech companies don't want their data to turn into a mousetrap […], they must stop collecting this data now. We must not sell them and we must not have them when the court orders arrive, she hammered.

Google and Meta (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger) track their users to be able to sell highly targeted and personalized advertising space to advertisers.

The information collected is anonymized, but remain accessible to authorities with a warrant. However, after the Supreme Court's decision, many conservative states have already planned to ban voluntary terminations of pregnancy on their soil.

Google's parent company, Alphabet, continues to rake in huge profits, due to its position in the online advertising market.

Some laws passed even before #x27;Supreme Court ruling, like in Texas in September, encourages ordinary citizens to sue women suspected of having abortions or those who helped them – even an Uber driver who allegedly took them at the clinic, for example.

Google's technologies therefore risk becoming tools for extremists who want to suppress people seeking reproductive health care, wrote 42 elected officials in the United States in a late May open letter to the leader. of Google, Sundar Pichai.

Because Google maintains information about the geographic location of hundreds of millions of smartphone users that x27;he regularly shares with government agencies, they added.

Google did not react to several requests from AFP on this subject. Meta and Apple have not responded either.

So far, they have remained discreet, notes Corynne McSherry, legal director of the NGO EFF .

They can and should do much more to protect the privacy of user data, she stressed. And if this disrupts their economic model, it is time to change the model, she added.

The association has published a list of recommendations for platforms: collect less data, encrypt it, do not share it with dubious companies or do not force users to authenticate.

The organization is also calling on them not to give in to any potential demands, such as a warrant that would demand information on all smartphones near a family planning service.

Social networks are accused of using the personal data of their users for advertising purposes.

But even if the companies made efforts, this would not exempt the persons concerned from taking measures themselves to protect their personal data, recognizes the NGO.

She advises them to use less data-intensive search engines, such as DuckDuckGo, encrypted messaging services such as Signal or ProtonMail, and even virtual private networks (VPNs). These are popular digital tools for activists and journalists in authoritarian countries.

On TikTok and Instagram, influencers are also calling for the removal of mobile applications for fertility or contraception.

Natural Cycles (NC) set out to create a completely anonymous experience, co-founder Elina Berglund Scherwitzl said on Twitter on Friday.

The goal is to make so that no one – not even Natural Cycles – could identify the user, she insisted.

But beyond companies and citizens, the responsibility for protecting sensitive data should fall to the authorities, remind politicians.

Le Capitole, à Washington, is home to the United States Congress, made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

It is not up to individuals to figure out how to erase their tracks, and what apps are safe or not. It's up to us in government to do our job, said Sara Jacobs, a Democratic parliamentarian in an interview with AFP on Friday.

In early June , she filed a bill in Congress (My Body My Data Act, which means in French my body my data) which would in particular oblige companies to collect only the health information strictly necessary to provide their services.

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California and some US states have passed laws in recent years to better regulate the privacy of personal information online, but Congress cannot agree on a federal law.

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