The following month, 17 Republican attorneys general wrote a letter to Pichai demanding otherwise. They argued that any move to suppress pro-life search results at the behest of Democratic officials would “violate the most fundamental principle of the American marketplace of ideas” and “actively harm women seeking essential help.”
The dueling reactions highlighted a new political hot spot for Google. The tech giant has long faced concerns from lawmakers over its vast reach and wealth of user data. But in the wake of Roe’s demise, Google, perhaps more than any of its tech peers, has come under renewed scrutiny of how its data and platforms perform. users could have an impact on abortion seekers.
In response to the outcry, Google announced in July that it would begin deleting users’ location history for visits to abortion clinics and fertility clinics, among other destinations. Google also said it would add an option for Fitbit users to bulk delete their period data. (The Google-owned fitness tracker previously gave users the option to delete period tracking data on a record-by-record basis.)
But even though Google has adjusted some of its policies, it continues to face pressure from Democrats, privacy advocates, and even some of its employees to do more to protect women seeking abortions — not to mention the prospect of Republicans, who are expected to largely regain control of the House midterm this year, pushing back against the steps he is taking.
“That seems like the bare minimum of engagement,” Danielle Citron, a University of Virginia law professor and author of the forthcoming book “The Fight for Privacy,” told CNN Business in an email about the change in privacy. location data. “If Google is serious about protecting personal information, then it shouldn’t collect (and, if it did, immediately delete) information about pregnancy, abortion, and other reproductive health problems and treatments of all its services, including research. »
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of the signatories to the letter to the FTC and a June letter to President Joe Biden urging him to pass an executive order upholding reproductive rights, welcomed the measure, but suggested that Google still had a lot to do. against criminalization,” Booker said in a statement provided to CNN Business.
Workers at the Alphabet Workers Union, made up of hundreds of employees from Google and parent company Alphabet, are also unhappy.
“The truth is, Google’s claim that it will start removing certain types of location data just doesn’t go far enough. User data from Google searches, and other data collected and stored on various Alphabet products, poses a significant risk to pregnant women,” said Alejandra Beatty, member of the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA and Chief tech program at Alphabet-owned Verily to CNN Business.
Fitzpatrick also addressed concerns about sharing data with law enforcement, saying Google is “committed to protecting our users from inappropriate government requests for data, and we will continue to oppose requests that are too broad or otherwise legally reprehensible”.
For its part, Google says that in some cases it asks to provide less information or refuses to provide such information at all. But the fear strikes at the underlying concern of privacy advocates about Google and some of its peers.
As Citron put it, “our phones are goldmines and, with warrants, provide a detailed view of reproductive history.”
CNN’s Clare Duffy and Brian Fung contributed to this report.