Google Urged To Curb Data Collection, Protect Users From 'Creative Prosecutors'

Google recently responded to the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade by promising to delete location data showing that people had visited abortion clinics or other sensitive locations.

But advocacy groups argue that move will not go far enough to protect users from law-enforcement officials who want to draw on Google data to prosecute abortion seekers.

“Your company collects a virtually unimaginable amount of data -- not only information about where we’ve been, but also what we’ve bought, what information we have sought, who we’ve talked to, what we’ve said,” Accountable Tech, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 14 other groups said Thursday in an open letter to Google executives.

“The volume of data in Google’s hands means that creative prosecutors will find other incriminating items in people’s online records that no one ever imagined might be seized in this context,” the organizations add. “To help address that, Google should immediately take steps to confine the data it collects to only what is necessary to provide the service the user requests, limit data retention, and share the data, if at all, only with trusted and vetted third parties.”

The advocates are also calling on Google to clarify its promise to shed data that could reveal visits to sensitive locations.

“Will Google allow users to have a voice in deciding what constitutes 'sensitive data' and is therefore worthy of redaction?” the groups ask. “If 'particularly personal' is the criterion, should Google not clear location information about residences or general visits to the doctors office as well?”

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