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Biden executive order on abortion access aims to address privacy concerns

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Biden’s White House has taken a step toward supporting some of the privacy concerns raised after the Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade† In a new paper on abortion access and other issues, the White House suggested it is trying to increase privacy protections for people seeking reproductive health care, though it’s not clear what policies could change as a result of the action.

The injunction highlights “the potential threat to patient privacy posed by the transfer and sale of sensitive health-related data and digital surveillance.” And it offers some guidance to other agencies, such as the FTC, though it stops proposing new regulations.

Instead, the injunction seems to leave much to the discretion of the FTC and the Department of Health and Human Services. For example, it says the chairman of the FTC is “encouraged to consider actions … to protect consumer privacy when seeking information about and providing reproductive health care.” It also states that the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services “should consider actions to educate consumers about the best way to protect their health privacy and limit the collection and sharing of their sensitive health-related information.”

Biden’s executive order comes after privacy advocates and activists warned that the lack of federal privacy rules could affect people seeking abortions after theroe† Period tracking apps have received undue attention, but experts say the problem goes much deeper than just one type of app. And while the executive order doesn’t address issues like data brokers or tech companies’ massive collection of personal information, the issue has gotten Congress’s attention. On the same day as Biden’s executive order, a group of Democrats from the House Oversight Committee launched five data brokers and the companies behind five popular bike-tracking apps.

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