5 online surveillance risks to people seeking abortions in the U.S.

When the draft The Supreme Court’s decision will be overturned Roe v. Wade leaked to the press, many of us who are doing privacy research for vulnerable individuals have come to a disturbing realization: Disadvantaged and vulnerable populations Risky online vulnerability is the subject of our attention that is likely to grow exponentially. These groups readily include all women of childbearing age, regardless of the level of security and privilege they can imagine.

In upside down Roe, the decision is predicted to not only strip women of birth control and self-determination as a matter of constitutional law, but it will also change their relationship with the online world. Anyone in a situation where abortion has become illegal who relies on the internet to find information, products and services related to reproductive health will be subject to the online policy.

As an online privacy researcher, I’ve learned about how Google, social media, and internet data in general can be used for surveillance by law enforcement to create networks. digital grid. Women will be at risk not only from what they reveal about their fertility status on social media, but also by data from their health apps, which could accuse them if they subpoenaed.

The people most vulnerable to invasions of privacy online and traditionally using or abusing their data are those whom society deems less deserving of protection: Those without the means, power or social status. Surveillance targeting disadvantaged people not only reflects a lack of interest in protecting them, but also suggests that, because of their social identity, they are more likely to commit crimes or violate in ways that are harmful to them. can justify preemptive policymaking.

Many of the marginalized are women, including low-income mothers, whose mere act of asking for public assistance could expose them to criminal intent. These assumptions are often used to justify invasions of their privacy. Now, with anti-abortion laws sweeping Republican-controlled states and poised to go into effect if the Supreme Court overturns. Roe v. WadeAll women of reproductive age in those states are likely to be subject to the same presumptions.

In the past, women only had to worry that Target or Amazon might find out about their pregnancy. Based on what is known about privacy violations by law enforcement against marginalized people, it is likely that in the post-Roe world, women will be more equal in the legal field. digital medicine. For example, law enforcement agencies often use forensic tools to search people’s cell phones when investigating a variety of crimes, sometimes without a search warrant.

5 data risks for women

Imagine a situation in which a colleague or neighbor reports someone to the authorities, which gives law enforcement officials the basis to pursue digital evidence. That evidence could include, for example, internet searches for abortion providers and cycle app data showing missed periods.

The risk is especially severe in places where bounty hunting is encouraged. In a state like Texas, where it is possible for citizens to sue people who help others access abortion services, anything you say or do in any context becomes appropriate because there is no cause. What could happen to your data access.

Beyond that, it is difficult to do full justice to all risks because issues of context and different combinations of circumstances can conspire to add to the damage. Here are the risks to watch out for:

  • Share information about your pregnancy on social media.
  • Internet search behavior is directly or indirectly related to your pregnancy or reproductive health, regardless of which search engine you use.
  • Location tracking via your phone, for example, shows that you’ve visited a place that may be relevant to your reproductive health.
  • Use apps that disclose relevant sensitive data, such as your menstrual cycle.
  • Overconfident in using encryption or anonymity tools.

Scholars, including my colleagues and I, have sounded the alarm for years, arguing that the surveillance practices and lack of privacy that threaten the most vulnerable are ultimately threats. for everything. That’s because the number of people at risk can emerge when political forces determine that a broader population is presenting threats that justify surveillance.

The paradox of privacy

The lack of action on the vulnerability is partly due to a failure of the imagination, which often leaves those who find their place near-secure within the political and social system.

However, there is another reason for the lack of attention. When looking at key privacy obligations and requirements, the privacy and security community has, for decades, been caught up in the debate about whether people really care about privacy. their reality or not, even if they value it in principle.

I argue that the privacy paradox – the belief that people are less motivated to protect their privacy than they claim to be – remains conventional wisdom today. This perspective diverts attention from action, including giving people the tools to fully assess their risk. The Privacy Paradox is arguably more of a commentary on how few people understand the implications of so-called surveillance capitalism or feel empowered to defend against it.

Given public indifference, it is easy to assume that people in general do not want or need protection and that all groups are equally at risk. Incorrect.

It’s hard to talk about bearings, but as these online risks spread to more people, the importance of online safety will become a major concern. Online safety includes being careful about digital footprints and using anonymous browsers.

It’s possible that the general population, at least in states willing to activate or endorse abortion bans, will realize that Google’s data can be incriminating.

This article was originally published on Undark via Nora McDonald at the University of Cincinnati. Read the original text here.

https://www.inverse.com/culture/roe-v-wade-online-risks 5 online surveillance risks to people seeking abortions in the U.S.

Emma James

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