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Google will automatically delete “sensitive locations” in the future

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark ruling “Roe v. Wade,” Google is now also taking action. In the future, the tech company will delete so-called sensitive entries about the location.

Roe v. Wade” is a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States of America. The 1973 ruling enshrined the right for women to have an abortion in the U.S. Constitution. On June 24, 2022, this ruling was overturned by the Surpreme Court. Well-known tech companies such as Apple and Disney have already responded to the controversial new abortion law by, among other things, allowing their employees to travel abroad for appropriate medical care. Google is also following suit and even going a step further by giving location history on mobile devices a major update.

Google will no longer store every location

If you have activated Google’s location history, you can see where you have been and when in the past days, weeks or even years. The disadvantage: A detailed movement profile of the user is created, which can be viewed by third parties in case of doubt. Although the history can also be deleted manually in the Google account settings, this is more cumbersome than automatic deletion by Google. As a result of the overturned ruling, Google now wants to do just that. Starting in the USA, a corresponding update is to be rolled out.

In the future, Google will then automatically “forget” a visit to a so-called “sensitive medical facility”. These include abortion clinics, but also addiction counseling centers, fertility centers, plastic surgeons or shelters for victims of domestic violence.

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More privacy for Google users

The issue of data security at Google is a recurring concern for users and lawyers alike. With the step to no longer store certain locations in the future, Google is granting users more privacy and setting an example. If the software determines in the future that such a “sensitive medical facility” has been visited, the entry disappears directly from the history again.

“Privacy is important to people – especially when it comes to issues like their health,” writes Google Vice President Jen Fitzpatrick. “We realize that people rely on Google to keep their personal information safe.” Based on the resulting responsibility, Fitzpatrick says a number of measures are now taking effect.

Also of interest: do you actually know how well Google knows you?

Further measures

In addition to the automatically deleted location, Google wants to take other precautions or has already taken them. For example, it is now easier for users of the Play Store to find out what information an app developer collects from its customers. Owners can also actively intervene and delete data from sports trackers like Fitbit’s devices. The same applies to special cycle trackers for women. The data records could give curious people clues as to whether a woman may have terminated a pregnancy.

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The company also points to its long track record of cooperation with authorities. The protection of user data has always been a top priority. In this regard, Fitzpatrick writes: “We remain committed to protecting our users from unauthorized government data requests (…).”

Google does not mention when the automatic deletion of sites will also be used internationally. However, a corresponding update can probably be expected very soon.

Source

  • Google
  • Supreme Court abortion ruling

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  • Google

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