In the upcoming weeks, Google says it would begin automatically removing visits to weight loss centers, domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics, and other potentially sensitive sites from users’ location history.
The business claims in a blog post from Friday that the deletion will take place “shortly after” the visit, as soon as its systems have determined that a journey has been made to one of the sites. This shift has occurred as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade and the immediate steps taken by some states to criminalize abortions.
Google’s post, entitled “Protecting people’s privacy on health topics,” also mentions that there’s an update coming for Fitbit that will let you delete multiple menstruation logs at once if you’ve been using the health tracking feature.
“Today, we’re announcing that if our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from Location History soon after they visit,” wrote Jen Fitzpatrick, Google’s senior vice president of core systems and experiences, in a blog post.
“We’re committed to delivering robust privacy protections for people who use our products, and we will continue to look for new ways to strengthen and improve these protections,” he added.
Along with visits to abortion clinics, Google said that visits to counseling offices, fertility clinics, drug rehab centers, weight reduction centers, and cosmetic surgery offices would also be automatically removed from users’ location records. Users have always had the option to manually edit their location records, but Google will now do so as a proactive measure to increase privacy.
Although Google still keeps a lot of information about your actions on its servers, these privacy modifications are intended to remove specific data that could be used to prosecute someone for seeking medical attention. Google’s post says nothing about search and YouTube histories, which may likewise be used as evidence in investigations. Google has been contacted by us to inquire about any further measures it may be taking to safeguard user data.
Google reiterates that it would “continue to fight demands that are excessively broad or otherwise legally unacceptable,” even though the business is legally required to accede to some government requests for data (and may be forced to pass over logs if they exist). Google also states that, unless specifically prohibited by law or in the interest of immediate security, it will alert users before providing their data to the government.