New California Law Protects Digital Privacy of Abortion Seekers Nationwide

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Within the wake of the overturn of Roe v. Wade, abortion rights advocates are warning of an enormous enhance in digital surveillance of abortion seekers. (Ivan Radic / Flickr)

Final week the California legislature handed a invoice offering groundbreaking digital privateness protections for abortion-related communications despatched by California tech corporations. Assembly Bill 1242, launched by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), bars telecommunications corporations included or headquartered in California from offering data of digital communications associated to abortion to legislation enforcement officers in search of to make use of them in an investigation or prosecution for abortion that’s authorized underneath California legislation.

“That is an unprecedented step to guard abortion privateness throughout the nation,” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan. “Now we have no obligation to be complicit in implementing legal guidelines which are antithetical to our personal values and authorized system in California.”

The invoice may stop the sort of scenario that not too long ago occurred in Nebraska, the place the state is criminally prosecuting a mom and her 17-year-old daughter for an abortion primarily based partly on Fb messages the place they mentioned abortion drugs, which Nebraska legislation enforcement officers subpoenaed from Meta.

Now we have no obligation to be complicit in implementing legal guidelines which are antithetical to our personal values and authorized system in California.

Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan

“California’s AB 1242 could possibly be an enormous step ahead in defending individuals’s digital privateness as they navigate abortion entry on this post-Roe world, particularly as individuals more and more flip to self-managed abortion,” stated Elisa Wells, co-founder and co-director of Plan C, which gives up-to-date info on how individuals within the U.S. are accessing at-home abortion capsule choices on-line. “Whereas self-managed abortion utilizing drugs is extraordinarily secure and efficient from a medical perspective, we all know that folks have been unjustly criminalized for managing their very own abortions and that digital footprints have been utilized by prosecutors to construct circumstances in opposition to individuals. Plan C welcomes this effort to strengthen digital privateness. Abortion is regular healthcare and nobody ought to be investigated or criminalized for it.”

The invoice would authorize the California Lawyer Normal to sue California firms to compel their compliance with the legislation, and would impose civil legal responsibility if the company knew or ought to have recognized that the warrant, subpoena or different authorized course of associated to an investigation into or enforcement of a prison abortion legislation. The invoice is now on California Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk awaiting his signature.

California Lawyer Normal Rob Bonta co-sponsored the laws. “California is not going to stand idly by as anti-choice states throughout the nation take radical motion to criminalize reproductive rights,” said Bonta. “I’m proud to sponsor AB 1242, first-in-the-nation laws that can assist protect these in search of or offering reproductive healthcare in opposition to wrongful prosecution. AB 1242’s groundbreaking information privateness provisions are essential—they prohibit tech corporations served with search warrants in California from offering digital info to out-of-state legislation enforcement businesses in search of to implement anti-abortion legal guidelines.”

Many massive tech corporations are based in California, together with Google, Apple and Meta, which owns Fb and Instagram. The invoice may have a nationwide affect as a result of it protects communications occurring between individuals positioned exterior of California.

California is not going to stand idly by as anti-choice states throughout the nation take radical motion to criminalize reproductive rights.

California Lawyer Normal Rob Bonta

In Could, the New York-based privateness group Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.) launched a chilling report explaining how anti-abortion governments had been already utilizing cutting-edge digital applied sciences to surveil girls’s search historical past, location information, messages, on-line purchases and social media actions by utilizing geofencing, key phrase warrants, huge information and extra. The report defined how police may use digital key phrase warrants to “forged digital dragnets” and determine individuals in search of abortion info on-line. The California legislation may block this apply.

Meeting Invoice 1242 was considered one of 13 bills that handed the California legislature on the finish of the session final week, together with AB 2019 defending abortion-related medical info from disclosure. The payments had been a part of a legislative package deal launched by the California Legislative Ladies’s Caucus and backed by the California Future of Abortion Council, a coalition that features abortion rights advocacy teams.

The Council launched a press release celebrating the passage of the laws: “As extra states enact complete or excessive bans on abortion care—leaving tens of millions of individuals with out the power to entry authorized abortion care of their dwelling state—California continues to offer a blueprint for what is feasible when coverage facilities individuals, fairness, science and medication; and trusts every particular person to make the most effective choices for themselves and their household about their healthcare choices.”


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