As the world ends up baffled at US Supreme Court ruling ending abortion rights, some states are set to face a range of restrictive laws that would outlaw the procedure. Essentially, this would result in people facing penalties if they seek abortions, along with the ones who would provide this service. Hence, one cannot help but wonder how its compelled tech companies to choose their particular stance on right to abortion.
Recently, a range of such tech companies went on to introduce reimbursement programmes for employees seeking abortion in another state following the leaked draft overruling Roe v. Wade. Though this shows their concern for workers, the aspect that is more noticeable is their silence on their users’ data. Many assume that such information could be so valuable, that tech giants would rather choose to keep on collecting them despite the risk it poses.
An analysis from the Washington Post lists how thirteen states have set bans in place that would penalise abortion, with a minimum of seven more likely to follow in these steps. Crucially, there is no lack of means to weaponise data as a tool to locate and penalise people looking for abortions and ones providing them.
Laws currently in place:
The abortion law of Texas would enable anyone to sue an individual for helping and abetting the procedure. Data that could be used to monitor the providers which could be an Uber driver driving the seeker to a clinic or an abortion rights advocates raising funds on social media. In other places, the police would ask for and use such location data to track people down similarly who are involved in providing or getting the procedure done.
One of the ways tech companies help in protection of abortion rights is reimbursing employees who need to travel for abortion to access the service legally. In order to aid users, the companies must simply halt the collection of data, and ad brokers must stop the sale of it. However, the companies have not addressed the matter of them holding such power.
Moreover, the companies’ silence indicate that they look at the process of data collection as opaque enough for users to not raise a fuss about it. Clearly, the data in hand is much more valuable to the companies than actually aiding the people gain access to this crucial medical service.