As technology is increasingly integrated into our day-to-day lives, the need for transparency and accountability in the tech industry is greater than ever. Our Tech Accountability Project (TAP), and the Tech Worker Handbook, empowers tech workers to hold technology companies accountable and supports them when they speak out against corruption and human rights violations.
Last week’s decision by the Supreme Court to eliminate the constitutional right to an abortion, is a violation of human rights and individual liberties. With this decision, a woman’s privacy is left to the whim of state legislators, many of whom might be ready to track down women who seek an abortion or who desperately seek help online. The thin line of protection for women in these states is held by tech companies that collect data on their every move.
For example, Facebook (Meta) receives data on its users that includes medical histories and appointment information for abortion consultations and screenings. Many crisis pregnancy centers collect their visitors’ sensitive personal information, including home addresses, living arrangements, demographics, and pregnancy histories, which they could use for targeted advertising. Data collected by other apps includes location tracking to and from crisis pregnancy centers, family planning-related purchase information, period tracking information, and more.
Additionally, anti-abortion advocates use tech to reach pregnant women with misleading or false information – and those practices are likely to grow. Although Google pledged in 2014 to remove ads for crisis pregnancy centers that violated deceptive advertising policies, a recent report found that in states with abortion-restrictive trigger laws, Google search results for abortion resources often led to non-medical facilities featured alongside ads for anti-abortion clinics.
Now that the very life and liberty of women is threatened, we need to be ever more vigilant about holding the unregulated Big Tech industry to account. If state governments request private information from companies that track abortion-related data, this data can be weaponized against women to block or criminalize those seeking reproductive healthcare.
If you are a tech worker concerned about your company’s use or sharing of private data, the Tech Worker Handbook and the Tech Accountability Project can help you think through your options for holding the company to account. The handbook, written by former tech whistleblowers and support groups, includes information on legal, media, security and privacy issues. It is intended to give a balanced and concrete overview of the possibilities and pathways as you build your overall strategy and decide whether or not to be a whistleblower. The Tech Accountability Project includes connections to advocacy groups and information on how to make sure the risk you take as a whistleblower results in real change.
If you have any questions about these resources or your personal situation, please reach out to our email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We highly encourage tech workers to use resources, such as the Tech Worker Handbook, to empower themselves with information relevant to protecting rights, in order to make informed decisions on how to address wrongdoing and seek accountability within powerful corporations.
Relevant resources for privacy after the Dobbs SCOTUS decision:
Story By Bella Golden, June 29, 2022