On Wednesday, May 4, data broker SafeGraph stated that it halted its offering for sale of the data connected to family planning centres, like that of Planned Parenthood locations. This was after the leaked opinion of the Supreme Court that showed the court was set to overturn the historic Roe vs. Wade decision.
In a blogpost on Wednesday, the CEO of SafeGraph, Auren Hoffman stated how they are letting go of the Patterns data for locations of Family Planning centres from their self- serve shop and API. This was in wake of the federal changes in access to family planning. She specified how this in order to avoid any ‘potential misuse of the data.’ This announcement came after reports specifying the dangers of such data being exposed. It specified how the data broker labeled Planned Parenthood as a brand.
Companies such as SafeGraph collect or often store data about a specific group of people and businesses in order to sell it. The same reports explained how anyone could possibly purchase the data on people visiting family planning centres. Additionally, it would contain the duration of their stay, the places they came from along with the place they went to afterwards.
They had reportedly bought a week’s data spanning over 600 Planned parenthood locations for $160. Reportedly, such information is collected through apps informed on users’ phones.
“We have had many academics that have used this type of data for really good purposes,” Hoffman said on Wednesday in the blog post. “Taking away this data will impact many academics that want to study this topic (like understanding the impact of legislation on family planning visits).”
Hoffman went on to say how the company made the decision to suspend sales for family planning centres owing to the ‘current climate.’ Notably, other types of information available for purchase at the data broker include aggregated transaction data. This mainly shows how much money people spend at particular businesses.
She went on to state how the company had never indicated that information from SafeGraph was ever used for ‘bad purposes.’ They specified how it does not sell data particular related to individuals, except certain device-specific data. The CEO said how the company had always ‘committed to the highest level of privacy practices’ making sure that individual privacy is never compromised. She assured how the data broker uses ‘differential privacy’ to guarantee anonymity. However, SafeGraph specified that they would continue providing data related to the family planning centres as it is already available to the public.