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Uterine Surveillance: Save abortion data from prying eyes

Privacy organizations, legal groups and abortion advocates fear that state law enforcement may issue broad warrants for information such as Internet search history or phone location data to identify people seeking abortion or obtain records of patients using online abortion services.

Some states can punish people who travel to another state for legal abortion and return to their state, said Mary Ziegler, a professor at Florida State University Law College and an abortion legal expert.

“This will not be a scenario where the red and blue states are likely to leave each other alone,” Ziegler said.

Abortion rights groups fear that surveillance – which advocacy groups believe may be unconstitutional – could be used to prosecute abortionists, making it even more difficult to conduct proceedings in the future.Roe World.

Several telemedicine abortion groups have told POLITICO that they are reluctant to disclose details of safety practices, but others have considered several ways in which they are preparing for the impending Supreme Court ruling.

Choix, an online reproductive health clinic, does not collect data on the state in which patients live – only where they seek help – to protect privacy, said CTO Mark Adam. The company’s legal advisor is looking for ways to protect patients and providers, Adam added.

Online abortion news guide Plan C said it weighs in on how to protect against potential vulnerabilities, be it hackers or governments.

“It’s weird to think about this in the United States, but it’s a really weird time for privacy and freedom of speech,” said Plan C co-founder Alice Wells. And safety. “It’s all very disturbing.”

Choix, along with the ACLU and privacy groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, urges people seeking abortion drugs to use web browsers such as DuckDuckGo or Tor, which restrict data tracking. Groups also support encrypted messaging apps such as Signal.

Most attempts by states to try to restrict abortion are focused on providers rather than individual patients, although the recently repealed Louisiana bill will allow prosecutors to charge people who have had abortions with murder.

Sue Swayze Liebel, Director of State Policy against Abortion Human rights group Susan B. Anthony List says states will target state-sponsored abortions Pharmaceutical companies and groups that provide online pills and not individuals.

“In terms of enforcement, states try to be creative,” Libel said. “It’s going to upset the corporate side of things, not the women. “Law enforcers should use the tools available to them to punish those who commit illegal acts and violate their laws.”

But these guarantees are not enough for abortion rights and privacy organizations that have long been concerned about how digital footprints can be used against people who have had an abortion. For example, in 2018, Mississippi Prosecutors used online search records Linked to the purchase of abortion pills to be charged with the murder of a woman, which her lawyer said was her stillborn baby, although the charge was later dropped.

“There may be a race to the bottom in terms of what kind of information and investigative techniques should be used to enforce these laws,” said Nate Wessler, ACLU’s Deputy Director of Publications, Privacy and Technology. “It is clear that we are going to have several aggressive investigations, probably quite quickly.”

You. Ron Weiden (D-Ore.) He called online surveillance potential “Five Alarm Crisis” and “Uterine Surveillance” at a Aspen Institute event last week, criticizing data brokers who sell information about people having abortions. The Privacy Core mourns the lack of a federal privacy law to protect consumer data, which has long been suspended in Congress.

It is easy for law enforcement to obtain data that link people to abortions because many do not know how to protect their privacy, Ziegler said. Wessler said law enforcement was increasingly using Dragnet warrants, for example, to locate anyone whose phone had been in the area for some time.

Many abortion providers use third-party ad trackers on their websites from which law enforcement can obtain data, Kan said. Virtual abortion advertising ads on Facebook and Instagram can collect data on which users interact with the ads, he added.

Credit card information can also be leaked, Wessler said, urging companies to keep “as little data as possible.” Choix collects data only on what is deemed necessary, what is still being regulated, Adam said.

“All this information is a single court order away from being a police tool,” Kan said.

Uterine Surveillance: Save abortion data from prying eyes

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