- 42 Democrat lawmakers urged Google to stop unnecessarily collecting users’ location data.
- He added that “far-right extremists” could use the data to track abortionists.
- Google said it received 11,554 requests for sharing geographic data with law enforcement agencies in 2020.
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Dozens of Democrat lawmakers are demanding that Google stop unnecessarily collecting and maintaining users’ location data that “far-right extremists” could use to go against abortion seekers.
In a letter addressed to Google CEO Sundar, the lawmakers said, “Google’s current practice of collecting and maintaining comprehensive records of cell phone location data will allow it to become a tool for cracking down on people seeking reproductive health care. ” Pichai.
The letter, dated May 24, was signed by 42 Democrats in the House and Senate. He was led by Senator Ron Wyden and included lawmakers such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren.
We urge you to immediately improve your data collection and retention practices, so that Google no longer collects redundant customer location data or retains any non-aggregated location data about individual customers, whether identifiable or unknown.”
A draft Supreme Court opinion leaked earlier this month shows that Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision that guaranteed federal rights to abortion, could be overturned in the coming weeks. If that happens, abortion could become illegal in 23 states.
The news raised concerns about how location data could be used to track people who visited abortion clinics. Last week, 16 Democrat senators urged the Federal Trade Commission to ensure data privacy for those seeking abortions in states where the procedure may be illegal.
In a letter to Pichai on Tuesday, Democrat lawmakers said Google collects the most detailed information through its Android smartphones. He said the collection happens “regardless of the phone being used or what app the user has opened.”
Lawmakers used Apple to prove that smartphone companies are not required to retain users’ location data. “Americans who can afford an iPhone have more privacy from government surveillance of their movements than millions of Americans who use Android devices.”
Google said it received 11,554 geofence requests in 2020
The lawmakers argued that law enforcement officers often force Google to hand over data through “geofence” commands, or request that Google release data about every single user who lives in a particular location at a specific time. was near.
His request stems from a longstanding concern about Google’s response to law enforcement officials’ geofence requests. In 2020, civil rights groups also urged Pichai to decline such requests.
Google said it received 11,554 such requests from across the US in 2020, according to data released by Google last year. According to the data, this is 37.6% more than the number of requests in 2019. Google did not say in the release how many requests it complied with.
In March, a federal district judge ruled that Virginia police violated Fourth Amendment protections against inappropriate searches, in serving Google with a geofence warrant to obtain location data. NBC reported that police had sought Google’s assistance in finding out which users were near the scene of a robbery in 2019.
Google did not immediately respond to an insider’s request for comments.