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Congress probes era monitoring apps and knowledge agents over abortion privateness issues

The U.S. Area Oversight Committee is probing a selection of era monitoring apps and knowledge agents in mild of rising issues about how non-public fitness knowledge may well be weaponized within the dawning post-Roe v. Wade generation.

The committee issued letters these days to knowledge agents SafeGraph, Babel Boulevard, Virtual Envoy, Placer.ai and Gravy Analytics and app makers Flo Well being, Glow, GP Global, Clue developer BioWink and Digitalchemy Ventures.

Within the letters, the representatives asked knowledge at the firms’ knowledge assortment and retention insurance policies “together with paperwork and communications relating to the real or attainable manufacturing of such knowledge to exterior entities voluntarily or matter to criminal legal responsibility, akin to a subpoena.” The lawmakers additionally requested for info explaining every corporate’s knowledge sharing practices and what kind of income and benefit the ones firms have made off that knowledge going again 5 years.

“The selection of delicate knowledge may just pose severe threats to these in search of reproductive care in addition to to suppliers of such care, no longer simplest by way of facilitating intrusive executive surveillance, but additionally by way of hanging other folks susceptible to harassment, intimidation, or even violence,” the committee wrote.

“Geographic knowledge gathered by way of cell phones could also be used to find other folks in search of care at clinics, and seek and chat historical past relating to clinics or medicine create virtual bread crumbs revealing hobby in an abortion.”

The probe is spearheaded by way of Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Subcommittee on Financial and Client Coverage Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Rep. Sara Jacobs. The lawmakers have set a July 22 time limit for the corporations to agree to the requests.

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With Roe repealed and abortion not a secure federal proper within the U.S., privateness advocates, lawmakers and customers alike have raised issues that location and health-tracking knowledge could also be became in opposition to other folks in search of abortions within the U.S.

Each forms of knowledge paint an excessively personalised image of a person’s conduct. Well being and period-focused apps can observe neglected classes and fertility cycles, whilst consumer location knowledge purchased and offered by way of shadowy knowledge firms can give exact location knowledge that would implicate someone who visits an abortion supplier.

The White Area discussed its personal issues about virtual surveillance and firms that acquire or promote “delicate health-related knowledge” Friday in a new govt order involved in protective get admission to to abortion.

Final week Google introduced that it could erase location monitoring knowledge for “in particular non-public” puts, together with abortion and fertility facilities. In Might, Congressional Democrats wrote a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai urging the corporate to increase new privateness measures in mild of the looming reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Shoppers also are taking issues into their very own arms, swapping their present era trackers for choice apps that they understand to be more secure, despite the fact that in some instances they may well be leaping out of the frying pan and into the hearth.