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Google’s Legal Tangle: Accused of Siphoning Abortion Data

Google's Legal Tangle: Accused of Siphoning Abortion Data

Tech giant Google faces a lawsuit over allegations of illicitly gathering health information from users.

Allegations suggest that Google has unlawfully collected the medical data of the plaintiff and other potential class members.

A plaintiff, referred to as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, alleges that Google covertly collected her personal health data, including her searches for an abortion service provider on the Planned Parenthood website. The said website employs Google’s technology.

The lawsuit, which is currently being petitioned to gain class-action status, asserts that Google “aided and abetted” the healthcare provider in violating California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA).

The Alleged Violation of CIPA

The legal action further implicates Google for violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA). The law protects residents of California from unauthorized corporate surveillance and privacy infringement.

The detailed complaint indicates that Google’s tracking technology captured data related to Doe’s online interactions with the healthcare provider’s website.

In addition, it intercepted information about the treatment she received at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Burbank, California.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff and potential class members neither “authorized nor consented” to such tracking. They had a reasonable expectation of privacy in their confidential communications. It includes details of their searches for abortions and other medical services.

Google has yet to submit a response to this alleged claim.

The suit also alleges that Google used the data acquired from Doe to enhance its marketing and analytical services. This would probably help the company to refine its user-targeted advertising capabilities.

The legal action seeks a jury trial and calls on Google to stop this alleged practice and establish a compensation fund.

Another Large Scale Settlement

The lawsuit seems to have emerged on the heels of different legal actions related to healthcare websites. Providers who use Google and Meta’s tracking solutions are probably more vulnerable to data leaks and breaches.

Critics argue that they should maintain vigilant oversight of data tracking and its execution. One such lawsuit involved BetterHelp, an online counseling provider.

BetterHelp agreed to a settlement of $7.8 million without admitting any wrongdoing.

The settlement followed a 2022 complaint alleging BetterHelp coerced users to fill out a compulsory questionnaire to access services. It subsequently shared the information with Meta (formerly Facebook) and other entities for promotional purposes.

The US is yet to be covered with a comprehensive federal data regulation law.

Industry experts claim that these cases illuminate the critical state of data security in the US.

The absence of federal regulation has always been a primary sticking point in negotiations between the US and EU over the Privacy Framework. This aims to establish a set of guidelines allowing the free flow of EU residents’ data to US tech companies for domestic processing.

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Google’s Legal Tangle: Accused of Siphoning Abortion Data Reviewed by RP on May 17, 2023 Rating: 5

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