Apple, Google face scrutiny over collecting abortion data

(IANS) A group of US senators have urged the tech giants Apple and Google to prohibit the apps in their app stores from collecting data that could be used to identify women seeking abortions, media reports say.

The letter, signed by five Democratic and independent senators, comes in the wake of a leaked draft of an upcoming majority opinion that indicates that the Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision establishing the constitutional right to an abortion, reports CNET.

It also follows Tuesday’s publication of a separate letter signed by 42 Democratic and independent senators and members of Congress, calling on Google to stop collecting and retaining location data from its users, as it could be used to identify people who are seeking to obtain abortions.

The senators expressed concern that anti-abortion prosecutors and others will try to access and leverage personal information — including data related to location, online activity, health and biometrics — “in ways that threaten the wellbeing of those exercising their right to choose”.

Many apps in both Apple’s and Google’s respective stores routinely collect this kind of data, then sell it to brokers, the senators said.

And nothing is stopping those brokers from sharing or selling that data to prosecutors or “even vigilantes,” citing the letter, to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook, the report said.

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