Google to clear user location history for visits to health clinics, domestic violence shelters

google says it will automatically delete location logs when it detects visits to abortion clinics and domestic violence shelters.

In a blog postJen Fitzpatrick, senior vice president of Google Core Systems & Experiences, said the changes will roll out in the coming weeks.

After knocking over the landmark Roe v. Wade pronunciationEstablishing the right to legal abortion in the United States, there are concerns that data collected through search histories, medical tracking apps and GPS location data, among other things, could be used in prosecutions.

According to Fitzpatrick, while users will be offered a lot of privacy controls, the tech giant will also contribute by ensuring that some data sets are automatically wiped before such a future becomes a reality.

“Since these issues apply to healthcare providers, telecommunications companies, banks, technology platforms, and more, we know that privacy protections cannot be limited to individual companies or states acting individually,” the director said.

Location history on your Google account is turned off by default, but some users may find it useful for personalized recommendations. However, if location history is enabled and a user visits a sensitive area, Google will now automatically delete these logs.

Suppose the company’s systems detect visits to, among other things, medical facilities, counseling centers, domestic violence shelters, abortion and fertility clinics, or addiction treatment centers. In that case, Fitzpatrick says, “we’ll remove these entries from Location History soon after their visit.”

Period tracking apps and software are also important. Currently, menstrual tracker logs in Google Fit and Fitbit can be deleted one at a time, but the company plans to expand this to allow for multiple logs to be deleted at once.

Google has also reiterated its stance on law enforcement data requirements. In some cases, the company is required by law to provide user information. Still, users will be notified when their data is shared unless Google rules out or considers a situation to be an emergency.

The company also regularly publishes a transparency report that divides the number of law enforcement requests it receives and how many are successful. Google may push back against requests that are too broad or object to the provision of records.

“We remain committed to protecting our users from inappropriate government requests for data, and we will continue to oppose demands that are too broad or otherwise legally objectionable,” Fitzpatrick noted. “We will also continue to support bipartisan legislation such as the NDT Fairness Act recently passed by the House of Representatives, to reduce secrecy and increase transparency around government data demand.”

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