Google To Purge Abortion Data After History Of Stealthy Medical Data Collection

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Google plans to purge users’ abortion-related data, including location entries showing visits to abortion clinics, as states pass new abortion restrictions following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

The company will automatically delete entries from users’ location history for certain health-related locations including abortion clinics and fertility centers, it announced July 1. Several experts have raised concerns about the pledge, given Google’s history of secretive health data collection.

“Protecting our users’ privacy and securing their data is core to Google’s work. That’s why we design products to help people keep their personal information private, safe, and secure,” Google said in its announcement. “Privacy matters to people — especially around topics such as their health.”

Experts questioned Google’s commitment to protecting user privacy in comments to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Americans should not be deceived by Google’s announcement. This is not a company that values the safety of user data or privacy, but rather a company that prioritizes partisan political gain regardless of what that means for their users,” Jake Denton, a researcher at the Heritage Foundation Tech Policy Center, told the DCNF.

“Google was eager to reveal user data during the COVID era and to use user’s health data for profit,” he said. “This is a bold and partisan declaration by Google, and it is one that Attorney Generals in states like Texas should take seriously.”

Google secretly partnered with Ascension Hospitals, the second-largest healthcare system in the U.S., to collect and process data from its 2,600 hospitals and facilities in a 2019 initiative called “Project Nightingale,” according to The Wall Street Journal. Google had access to patients’ complete health histories, including names, dates of birth, lab results, diagnoses and hospitalization records; patients and doctors were not notified.

“I think it is safe to say that Google’s track record with user health data has led many to have questions and concerns,” Nathan Leamer, a former Federal Communications Commission official, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “And as healthcare becomes more intertwined with emerging tech and big data these concerns will only grow.”

Google later announced a data-sharing agreement with HCA Healthcare, a for-profit medical facility operator with over 2,000 healthcare sites, giving Google access to millions more health records, the New York Post reported in 2021.

Google did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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Daily Caller News Foundation
Daily Caller News Foundation
The Daily Caller News Foundation is a guest author for NRN. They are a non-profit providing original investigative reporting from a team of professional reporters that operates for the public benefit.

Kelly Offield is an investigative journalist and columnist for NRN, specializing on Big Tech's control of information. Click the red bell on the bottom left to turn on NRN's website notifications and watch Kelly Offield's author page to follow the developments of his column.