Will Anti-Abortionists Use ‘Uterus Surveillance’ Against Women in the U.S.?
The Guardian reported:
If you are looking for a cheerful column that will make you giggle and distract you from everything that is wrong with the world, click away now. This week I have nothing but doom, gloom and data trackers for you. If you are hoping to sink into a well of existential despair, maybe let out a few screams into the void, then you’ve come to the right place.
Here goes: the U.S. Supreme Court, as you are no doubt aware, is expected to overturn Roe v Wade and the federal right to an abortion very soon. At least 13 Republican-led states have “trigger laws” in place, which means that the moment Roe is overruled, abortion will be fully or partly banned. Other states will follow suit. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organisation, 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion when Roe falls.
Perhaps you are the glass half-full sort. Perhaps you are thinking: “Well, at least people can travel to a state where abortion is legal.” Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. There are the obvious logistical and financial constraints, for one thing. Then there’s the fact that we live in a world of mass surveillance: pretty much everything we do these days leaves a digital footprint – one that anti-abortion extremists will not hesitate to weaponise. One Democratic senator has described the potential of new technology to track down and punish anyone who might even be thinking of having an abortion as “uterus surveillance.” Expect to see a big rise in this, not least because some anti-abortion states are providing financial incentives to snitch on your fellow citizens. Texas, for example, has passed “bounty hunter” laws promising at least $10,000 to individuals who help enforce the abortion ban by successfully suing an abortion provider.
Fertility and Period Apps Can Be Weaponized in a Post-Roe World
When the draft of the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade was leaked to the public in early May, Elizabeth C. McLaughlin kicked off a social media storm. The founder of the Gaia Leadership Project, a company that trains women leaders and entrepreneurs, tweeted: “If you are using an online period tracker or tracking your cycles through your phone, get off it and delete your data. Now.” It had never occured to many women, until then, that their data could be weaponized against them. But experts that spoke to WIRED say that fertility and period-tracking apps — along with the myriad other data trails that users leave behind — could be a rich source of data for law enforcement looking to punish women if abortion is outlawed or criminalized.
“If there’s an app out there that’s collecting health data, it will soon be a target,” says Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP). “One of the sad ironies of this is that people who are actively trying to get pregnant will have a harder time using the technology to do it for fear of how that technology might be used against them in a court of law.”
Fertility and period-tracking apps vary, but most allow users to manually enter when their periods start and end, whether they use birth control, the length of their cycle, and their moods. Some allow users to track their periods as well as pregnancy. Many apps also allow users to sign in with their Google or Facebook accounts. Some also collect geolocation data.