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27 Jun 2022

Joseph Cox, Motherboard

USA: Tech companies silent on whether they will provide law enforcement with access to abortion data

"Tech Companies Won't Say If They’ll Give Cops Abortion Data," 27 Jun 2022

Many of the biggest tech and social media companies in the world, including Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and Snapchat, have refused to clarify whether they would fulfill or deny law enforcement requests for data that related to investigations involving those seeking or providing abortions.

... Motherboard asked if each will provide data in response to requests from law enforcement if the case concerns users seeking or providing abortions, or some other context in which the agency is investigating abortions. Motherboard also asked generally what each company is planning to protect user data in a post-Roe America.

None of the companies answered the questions. Representatives from Twitter and Snapchat replied to say they were looking into the request, but they did not provide a statement or other response.

... Snap told Motherboard in an email that the company evaluates how it responds to law enforcement requests, and will continue to do so while balancing privacy and remaining consistent with the law.

... Companies in the U.S. are generally required to respond to lawful requests for data from government agencies; a search warrant for location data related to a specific abortion clinic, for example, is a legally defensible request in those states.

In their privacy policies, the vast majority of companies say they will, unsurprisingly, provide law enforcement with access to user data in response to a valid order.

... Activist group the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote in an emailed statement ... that “Companies should protect users by allowing anonymous access, stopping behavioral tracking, strengthening data deletion policies, encrypting data in transit, enabling end-to-end message encryption by default, preventing location tracking, and ensuring that users get notice when their data is being sought. And state and federal policymakers must pass meaningful privacy legislation. All of these steps are needed to protect privacy, and all are long overdue.”