Privacy organizations, legal groups, and abortion advocates fear that state law enforcement may issue extensive warrants to obtain information such as Internet search history or phone location data to identify people seeking help with abortion, or get records of patients using abortion services online.

Some states may try to punish people who go to another state for legal abortion and return to their home state, said Mary Ziegler, a professor at the University of Florida Law College and an expert on the legal fight against abortion.

“It won’t be a scenario if the red and blue states are likely to just leave each other alone,” Ziegler said.

Abortion advocacy organizations are concerned that surveillance – which advocacy groups say may be unconstitutional – could be used to persecute people who have abortions, making it even more frightening to conduct procedures afterCaviar the world.

Several groups involved in telemedicine abortions have told POLITICO that they are reluctant to publish details of safety practices, but others have discussed some ways to prepare for the impending Supreme Court decision.

Choix, an online reproductive health clinic, does not collect data on the state in which patients live – only where they seek help – to protect privacy, said CTO Mark Adam. The company’s legal adviser is looking for ways to protect patients and providers, Adam added.

The Plan C online abortion information guide says it weighs how to protect against potential vulnerabilities, from hackers or governments.

“It’s amazing to think about it in U.S. A, but now is certainly a strange time for privacy and freedom of speech,” said Plan C co-founder Eliza Wells, adding that virtual aid providers are concerned about the possible impact of court decisions on privacy. and security. “It’s all very exciting.”

Choix, along with the ACLU and privacy groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, encourages people looking for abortion drugs to use web browsers such as DuckDuckGo or Tor that restrict data tracking. The groups also encourage encrypted messaging programs such as Signal.

Most states’ efforts to restrict access to abortion have focused on providers rather than individual patients, although a recently repealed Louisiana bill would allow prosecutors to prosecute the murder of people who have had abortions.

Sue Swayze Libel, director of public abortion policy human rights group Susan B. Anthony Liszt said that to combat virtual abortions, states will focus on pharmaceutical companies and groups that provide pills online, not individuals.

“In terms of law enforcement, states are trying to be creative,” Libel said. “It will break on the corporate side of things, not on the women’s side. “Law enforcement agencies must use the tools available to them to deal with those who engage in illegal activities and violate their laws.”

But those assurances are not enough for abortion rights and privacy organizations, which have long been concerned about how digital footprints could be used against people who have had abortions. For example, in 2018 Mississippi prosecutors used Internet search records related to the purchase of abortion pills to accuse the woman of killing, according to her lawyers, her stillborn child, although the charges were later dropped.

“There may be a race to the bottom in terms of what information and investigative techniques are used to enforce these laws,” said Nate Wessler, deputy director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “It is clear that we will see aggressive investigations probably soon enough.”

Saint. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Called the potential of online surveillance a “five-signal crisis” and “uterine surveillance” at an event at the Aspen Institute last week, knocking down data brokers who sell information about people who have abortions. The hawks of privacy complain about the lack of a federal privacy law to protect consumer data, which has long been a stalemate in Congress.

Law enforcement is easy to obtain data that could link people to abortion because many people do not know how to protect their privacy, Ziegler said. Law enforcement is increasingly using “dragon” warrants, for example, to locate those whose phones were in the area at the time, Wessler said.

Many abortion providers use third-party advertising trackers on their websites from which law enforcement can obtain data, Kahn said. And ads for virtual abortions on Facebook and Instagram can collect data on how users interact with advertising, he added.

Credit card information can also be highlighted, Wesler said, urging companies to keep “as little data as possible.” Choix collects data only on what is deemed necessary and still understands, Adam said.

“All this information is in one court decision from being a tool of the police,” Kahn said.

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