Google to auto-delete location history for abortion clinic visits

4 Jul 2022

Image: © bilanol/

Google’s decision follows concerns that law enforcement in the US could use personal data from certain apps against people who have sought abortions.

Google has said it will soon auto-delete the location data identifying that a user has visited an abortion clinic or other medical sites.

This follows the US Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion in the country.

Other medical facilities that Google mentioned in its planned changes include counselling centres, domestic violence shelters, fertility centres, addiction treatment facilities, weight loss clinics and cosmetic surgery clinics.

The tech giant said location history is off by default and there are tools such as auto-delete so users can easily get rid of parts or all of their location data.

But now if its systems identify that someone has visited one of the places above, it will delete these entires from the user’s location history soon after they visit. Google said the location data changes will take effect “in the coming weeks”.

The tech giant also shared planned data changes around its fitness apps to protect the privacy of users.

“Fitbit users who have chosen to track their menstrual cycles in the app can currently delete menstruation logs one at a time, and we will be rolling out updates that let users delete multiple logs at once,” said Google senior VP of core systems and experiences Jen Fitzpatrick in a blogpost.

Fitzpatrick added that the tech giant considers the “privacy and security expectations” of people using its products and that it notifies users when it complies with legal demands for information.

“We remain committed to protecting our users against improper government demands for data, and we will continue to oppose demands that are overly broad or otherwise legally objectionable.”

Following the decision to overturn Roe v Wade, there have been concerns that law enforcement in the US could use personal data from certain apps against people who have sought abortions illegally.

One type of app that has come under the spotlight has been period tracking apps. The Stardust app saw a recent surge in popularity after it claimed to implement end-to-end encryption. However, questions were raised about the app’s privacy-focused claims.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic