Photo : Matthew Henry - Unsplash
EnglishNewsSocial network

Police track down women seeking abortions, with the help of Meta and Google 🤬

Cliquez ici pour lire en français

In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court of the country, ruled that the right to abortion was no longer guaranteed at the federal level. Thus, each American state can ban abortion locally, which 13 states have done. With this decision, one of the fears of women’s rights associations has unfortunately become a reality and it is a real hunt for women that has been opened, helped by Meta and Google.

Web giants can share our conversations with the authorities 🤬

This spring, a woman named Jessica Burgess and her daughter will go on trial in Nebraska on charges of performing an illegal abortion. Key to the trial is a history of Messenger conversations between the mother and the family, provided by Meta. Police are looking to GAFAM for information to help them in their hunt. Private data like message history must be requested via a warrant. Meta, for example, receives more than 400,000 such requests per year, and responds favorably more than 70% of the time.

Meta told Business Insider that they were just complying with the law :

« « We comply with government requests for user information only when we have a good faith belief that we are required to do so by law.  We assess whether a request complies with internationally recognized human rights standards, including privacy, freedom of expression and the rule of law. When we comply with a request, we only provide information that is closely related to that request. If we believe a request is too broad, we will reject it and fight it in court, if necessary. We do not provide governments with ‘back doors’ to user information. ».

Except that in reality, Meta and the other Internet giants would have very little objection to such requests, even if they turned out to be illegitimate. Moreover, the data provided by the giants can be used to prosecute people for abortion, even if the purpose of the investigation is quite different.

Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University Law School, spoke to  Business Insider,

« social networks are not likely to oppose all illegitimate law enforcement requests, because they fear for their own liability, or because it is simply too expensive to oppose them ».

Refusals are more of an exception than anything else.

Pharmacies also share data 😰

But it doesn’t stop there. According to an investigation by ProRepublica, published last January, Google would share sensitive information such as users’ email addresses, location and search data of people visiting online pharmacies selling abortions. Indeed, these pharmacies share this data with the web giant and other third-party sites, notably via advertising trackers.

In 2022 Google announced that it would automatically delete the location history of users who visited clinics where abortion is available. Even so, the giant must, like Meta, comply with requests to hand over this sensitive data, if the request is made by a jurisdiction where abortion is now prohibited.

The importance of protecting your privacy 🔐

Sharon Docter, professor of legal issues and new media at California Lutheran University, gave the following statement to Insider.

« Social media companies have little incentive to protect privacy. Social media users need to be concerned about privacy, and users really need to think about the fact that their digital footprint could potentially be available to law enforcement if there is a valid search warrant».

As social networks are only pawns that comply with sometimes illegal requests, it is therefore important for each user to protect their privacy by opting for encrypted messaging, deactivating their location data and understanding the privacy policies of the platforms.
It’s true that the subject of abortion is divisive, especially because of people’s cultures and beliefs. But when you see how a change in the law, which seemed improbable, has made many women illegal overnight, you can’t be sure of anything anymore. What is legal today may not be legal tomorrow, depending on the administrations in place. And for those who think they have nothing to hide, Edward Snowden, the CIA whistleblower has the appropriate answer:

When you say « I don’t care about the right to privacy because I have nothing to hide, » that is no different from saying « I don’t care about the right to free speech because I have nothing to say, » or « I don’t care about freedom of the press because I have nothing to write».

Sources : Business Insider, ProPublica

Qu'en avez-vous pensé?

Je suis fan
Je me questionne

Vous pourriez aussi aimer

Laisser une réponse

Votre adresse e-mail ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont indiqués avec *

Plus dans:English