google automatically removes information about users who visit abortion clinics or other places that could cause legal trouble now that the US Supreme Court has opened the door for states to ban terminating pregnancies.
The company behind the world’s dominant internet search engine and the Android software that powers most smartphones in the world outlined the new privacy protections in a blog post on Friday.
In addition to automatically deleting visits to abortion clinics, Google also listed counseling centers, fertility centers, addiction clinics, weight loss clinics, and cosmetic surgery clinics as other destinations to be cleared from users’ location history.
Users have always had the option to edit their location history themselves, but Google will proactively do this for them as an extra level of protection.
“We are committed to providing robust privacy protections for people who use our products, and we will continue to look for new ways to strengthen and improve these protections,” wrote Jen Fitzpatrick, Google’s senior vice president, in the blog post.
The commitment comes amid mounting pressure on Google and other big tech companies to do more to protect the wealth of sensitive personal information through their digital services and products from government agencies and other outsiders.
That reversal could make abortion illegal in more than a dozen states, raising the specter that data about people’s location, texts, searches, and emails could be used in abortion prosecutions or even miscarriage medical care.
Like other tech companies, Google receives thousands of government requests for users’ digital data every year as part of misconduct investigations.
Google says it opposes search warrants and other demands that are too broad or appear unfounded.