Federal Legislators Ask Google To Limit Collection Of Location Data Following Leak Of Supreme Court’s Abortion Ruling
from the help-protect-users-from-the-gov't,-says-the-gov't dept
Senator Ron Wyden has never been shy about demanding both the government and the private sector stop doing so much damn spying on their constituents/users. Eleven years ago — long before it became apparent federal agencies were accessing/buying location data from any private party willing to give them access — Wyden was looking to enact laws against these activities.
As more information has continued to make its way to the public domain, Wyden (and others) have remained on top of this issue. Supreme Court precedent — established in the Carpenter case — says law enforcement should obtain a warrant before obtaining historical cell site location data from cell service providers. Federal agencies have taken this decision to mean it’s still ok to purchase location data from data brokers or fire off subpoenas to companies like Google that collect and retain massive amounts of this data. This has resulted in a renewed effort to pass a law establishing a warrant requirement, no matter where the data is sought.
With the Supreme Court apparently willing to criminalize abortion again, location data could be used as “evidence” these “criminals” sought to exercise reproductive rights the Supreme Court has decided the nation as a whole no longer needs to respect. If the warrant obligation seems to be too much of a hurdle for law enforcement, it can always seek the data from Google or buy it from data brokers that harvest it from apps that demand access to location info.
All investigators would need to do to generate probable cause is erect a geofence around family planning services or suspected abortion clinics and ask Google to hand over information that would possibly identify every employee and visitor/customer at these facilities. And this could be done over and over again until anti-abortion legislators are happy enough people have had their lives destroyed for attempting to manage their own lives.
That’s what Ron Wyden and 40 other congressional reps are hoping to prevent. There’s no law being written. Instead, Wyden and his compatriots are asking Google to limit how much information it collects and how long it stores this data.
Google has designed its Android operating system to transmit back to Google location information whenever any app on the phone uses location services, unlike iPhones, which collect and retain far less location information. The company also collects location data from users of Google Maps.
As a result, law-enforcement agencies are able to send so-called “geofence warrants” to Google, demanding the company turn over information about all phones that Google knows were near a particular place at a particular time. MAGA officials could use geofence warrants to target doctors who provide abortions, or identify women who travel out of state to obtain reproductive health care.
“If abortion is made illegal by the far-right Supreme Court and Republican lawmakers, it is inevitable that right-wing prosecutors will obtain legal warrants to hunt down, prosecute and jail women for obtaining critical reproductive health care. The only way to protect your customers’ location data from such outrageous government surveillance is to not keep it in the first place,” they wrote.
Don’t be evil, say the legislators to the company that long ago retired this motto. This is from the letter [PDF] sent to Google:
No law requires Google to collect and keep records of its customers’ every movement. Apple has
shown that it is not necessary for smartphone companies to retain invasive tracking databases of
their customers’ locations. Google’s intentional choice to do so is creating a new digital divide, in
which privacy and security are made a luxury. Americans who can afford an iPhone have greater
privacy from government surveillance of their movements than the tens of millions Americans
using Android devices.
Governments around the nation who may soon be enabled to “do evil” on their own following this presumed SCOTUS ruling. The point raised here for Google’s consideration is “why help them out?” At this point, the leaked ruling is still just a draft, but law enforcement has been relying on Google for location data for years. The impending criminalization of abortion will be just another reason for investigators to keep doing what they’ve been doing, knowing that Google will always have plenty of useful data on hand.
Filed Under: abortion, data collection, privacy, probable cause, reverse warrants, ron wyden
Comments on “Federal Legislators Ask Google To Limit Collection Of Location Data Following Leak Of Supreme Court’s Abortion Ruling”
Ron Wyden & Google
You think this letter will stop the usual trolls saying Ron Wyden is receiving bribes from Google?
Pfft. As if! Trolls are just here to harass, not make constructive debate!
Hey, don’t be so down on trolls! Without trolls, we’d have much higher bridge maintenance costs!
Something something whats higher than 0?
Most of the bridges in the US having failing grades from decades of no maintenance, its like the trolls aren’t doing anything useful…
You know what’s even better than feeding the trolls?
Feeding them before they even show up.
But Thad, where would we get that much strychnine?
First sentence in the link:
Asking Google to not be evil is about as nonsensical as asking the Devil himself to not be evil. Collecting as much data as possible and holding it forever is Google’s raison d’être, it is the basis of Google’s whole business model. Wyden & company, while they may appear well intentioned here, might as well be asking Google to cease to exist.
The only thing that stands a chance of stopping this “invasion of privacy as a business model” will be legislation with serious teeth, ie substantial prison terms. That is unlikely to happen, precisely because so many of the government’s law enforcement and intelligence gathering agencies rely on this global, industrial-scale invasion of privacy.
While corporations are people, even though they can’t even smile, expecting them to have a moral compass without guardrails is one of the stupidest things that somehow gained traction in the nation.
They might be run by people, but those corporations don’t have to give a shit about people.
Expecting they will live up to some sort of moral code, that lets be really honest a while bunch of people couldn’t meet on a good day, is insane.
Meat packers bet on which workers would get sick.
Meat packers got themselves declared essential while doing the least possible to protect the workers.
SNAP gave contracts to the company paying millions in fines for fraud making them a monopoly that killed babies & caused the formula shortage.
People in Flint were poisoned so that the citizens could pay to build a treatment plant that would have benefited others more.
The list… its long.
Stop pretending that corporations have a moral compass.
Start passing laws, making sure there is money for oversight, and a penalty should actually hurt not just be what they earn in 15 minutes.
Corporations exist to make profit, and they will find all sorts of ‘creative’ ways to increase those profits.
You don’t ask the termites eating your house what their goals and desires are… you stop them from eating the house.
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saying that “the supreme court apparently willing to criminalize abortion again” is a complete lie. the leaked opinion simply restores federalism and absolutely does not criminalize anything. it would restore the issue to the states where we the people can vote on the matter.
… said nobody witj amy awareness or
… said nobody with the slightest awareness or understanding of the situation in good faith, ever.
Big companies are not your friends
Nice request but so long as it’s more profitable to collect and retain the data Google has no real reason to do otherwise.
A company’s first and primary motivation will almost always be ‘What makes us the most money?’ and while that can be influenced by outside factors like not wanting to look too overly corrupt unless they are damn sure that they own enough politicians that they don’t have to worry about legal/regulatory backlash(looking at you telecom industry) by and large ‘screw everyone else, what matters is our profits’ is going to be the name of the game.
Please Google, do the right thing!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
And A Handmaid’s Tale begins. Sad
Poor people Android
“Americans who can afford an iPhone have greater
privacy from government surveillance of their movements than the tens of millions Americans
using Android devices.”
So they’re saying that people only buy Android devices because they’re too poor to buy Apple devices? I doubt that was the intention, but it sure came across that way. LMAO
More Dishonesty from Cushing
I suppose it’s too much to ask for Cushing to be honest with his reporting. Even if the decision is as the leaked document purports, the Court is not criminalizing anything. It’s merely saying that abortion is not a federally protected right, which in no way, shape, or form equates to criminalizing abortion.
Other than in the fact that tons of states have trigger laws that say that if the Supreme Court reverses Roe that abortion becomes criminalized.
Perhaps in that way, shape, or form?
Then that would be those states criminalizing abortion, not the Supreme Court.
Honestly, you didn’t used to be so disingenuous.
Re: Re: Re:
You would prefer I say “the Supreme Court would take an action, resulting in abortion being criminalized”?
Honestly, you didn’t used to be so desperate to distract from reality.
Re: Re: Re:2
No, because that’s disingenuous. Why is just being truthful so hard for y’all these days? This decision won’t result in abortion being criminalized, full stop. It may be criminalized in a handful of states but it will still be legal in more states than it won’t be. And no matter what its status, it will be those states which determine it, not the Supreme Court, as Cushing falsely stated.
When the Supreme Court ruled in the 1800s that regulation of gambling was not a federal matter, it didn’t “outlaw gambling”. It merely acknowledged that each state had the power to regulate gambling as it saw fit. Some outlawed it, some didn’t. This would be no different.
Sounds like the thing to do if all this comes to pass is when you go get an abortion, leave the phone at home.