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Critics Want to Prevent Google Data Use to Prosecute Abortion Seekers

With the overturn of Roe v. Wade, advocates fear that Google data could be used to apprehend those seeking abortions, NPR reports. When someone uses a Google service on a phone, their location is tracked and updated every two minutes. In the first half of 2021, investigators sent Google over 50,000 search warrants, subpoenas and other legal requests due to their huge information database. The two types of data that investigators use are geofence warrants and keyword warrants. These forms of data are what have pro-choice advocates worried. Geofence warrants show where a person is and the amount of time they were there. Keyword warrants show terms that a person has been searching.


A few previous incidents tested the morality of using Google data to prosecute. In Virginia, a judge ruled that the use of geofence data to prosecute a robbery suspect was unconstitutional because officers did not have probable cause for searching this data. In Denver, keyword searches were used to apprehend a suspect who was accused of starting a house fire that left five people dead. Authorities found that the suspect used Google to search the address of the home. Google’s statistics show that Google complies with 80 percent of the legal requests it receives. Some employees hope the company will do more to protect those seeking abortions. This month, Google said it would delete location data showing a person at an abortion clinic, fertility center and other “particularly personal locations.” Still, some advocates want Google to explore all of the ways investigators could seek out abortion patients and prevent the patients from prosecution.