Democrats ask Apple, Google to prohibit apps from using data mining to target people seeking abortions

·2 min read

A group of Senate Democrats asked Apple and Google to prohibit apps available in their app stores from using data mining practices to target people seeking abortion services in letters sent to the tech giants Friday.

The senators, led by Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.), asked the companies to review and update their app store policies and practices as necessary to address concerns around allowing apps to engage in “data practices that may victimize individuals who seek or have sought abortion services.”

The Democrats said they are concerned that anti-abortion prosecutors or other actors will try to access and leverage personal information, such as data about locations, online activity, health and biometrics, in ways that “threaten the well being of those exercising their right to choose.”

The senators underscored the need for the updates following the leak of a draft majority opinion indicating the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which could make abortion illegal in states across the country with restrictive laws.

The senators said information about app users’ fertility, browser histories indicating interest in contraception or location information showing a user visited a gynecologist could become a “data trove for actors who are intent on targeting, intimidating, and harming individuals who seek abortions or individuals who simply take steps to promote their reproductive health.”

The letters were also signed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Spokespeople for Apple and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The letters follow one sent by more than 40 Congressional Democrats to Google earlier this week urging the company to stop collecting and storing location data over concerns that it could be obtained by prosecutors to target individuals seeking abortion care.

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