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1 Jul 2022

USA: Experts warn of labour, privacy & surveillance risks if access to abortion is restricted

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Abortion ban rally

Following the leak of a May 2022 draft US Supreme Court decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade, experts have warned of the negative impacts restricted abortion access could have on workers and how weak privacy and surveillance protections could lead to sensitive data being used in criminal investigations into individuals that have had abortions.

Labour experts note that abortion access is a workforce issue, and restricting access could have negative economic impacts on women, and particularly women of colour. Some companies have spoken out against abortion restrictions recognising its impact on their employees' health and safety and offered to pay for employees' costs to travel if they are located in a State with restricted abortion access. However, many companies have remained silent or declined to comment on the draft Supreme Court decision.

In States where abortion has been criminalised, digital rights experts warn that data tracking and digital surveillance methods could be used to target individuals who have had abortions or those that have assisted them. Experts note that companies such as the menstrual cycle tracking apps Clue and Flo Health could be used to target people that have had abortions. Both companies have stated that they respect their users privacy and do not share their data with third-parties. Data providers SafeGraph and Placerai have also come under scrutiny for sharing location data of mobile phone users at abortion clinics. Both data providers have since removed that data from their websites.

Further company comments can be found in the articles linked below.

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