Privacy groups have raised new concerns about how internet platforms may respond to requests from law enforcement for user data in places where abortion is prohibited in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade. However, the tech sector does not now appear to be prepared to respond to the question of whether tech companies want to share data about abortion seekers with governments.
In the form of the goods we purchase, the locations we visit, the businesses we frequent, the websites we browse, the information we look up, and the messages we send to friends and family, tech platforms hold massive troves of personal and health information. Digital rights organizations have cautioned about the dangers that this internet imprint may now present to individuals who are seeking or delivering abortions in jurisdictions where the procedure is illegal.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization, issued a statement in response to the Court’s decision, saying that those who are seeking, providing, or facilitating access to abortions “must now assume that any data they provide online or offline could be sought by law enforcement.”
Even though some of these companies have promised to help cover travel costs for their own employees who may need to leave their home states in order to access legal abortion, tech giants have largely refrained from stating how they intend to handle law enforcement requests that could result in the prosecution of abortion-seekers or providers.
Amazon, Apple, Google, Lyft, Facebook parent company Meta, Microsoft, Uber, Snap, TikTok, and Twitter are just a few of the companies that either didn’t respond, declined to comment or didn’t explicitly react to inquiries on how they would handle data demands aimed at abortion-seekers.
Tech companies have generally stated that they abide by government data requests as long as they are compliant with current legal requirements. Now, platforms may find it challenging to resist some data requests linked to abortion investigations due to the repeal of federal abortion laws and the passing of new abortion-restrictive legislation in several states.
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