How to Protect Your Digital Privacy if ‘Roe v. Wade’ Falls

While it may be increasingly important for people in the United States to consciously consider what they post when it comes to their own abortions or those of their loved ones, Hayley McMahon, an independent public health researcher studying access to abortion , points out that the purpose of this advice is not to calm the speech, but to keep people safe.

“I never want to tell someone that they shouldn’t talk about their experience or that they can’t talk about their experience, because there are tons of power in telling stories about abortion,” McMahon says. “But I think people need to have all the information and an understanding of the risks, and then they can make decisions about what to say where.”

Know your rights

Researchers also point out that people in the United States should know and feel safe about their rights when it comes to law enforcement. If the police question you, you can simply say, “I’m exercising my right to remain silent and I want to talk to a lawyer.” Resources like Repro’s legal helpline can help you connect with specific legal advice. Also, lock your devices with a unique, strong PIN number, keep them locked, and simply ask a lawyer if a police officer is trying to force you to unlock your device.

McMahon also adds that in the very rare case of a complication with a medication abortion, people should not feel pressure to disclose treatment to doctors in the emergency room or other health care settings. Just saying, “I think I’m having a miscarriage” will be enough.

“People need to understand that it’s impossible to distinguish between miscarriage and medication abortion,” McMahon says. “Medication abortion simply induces miscarriage. And of course, we usually want everyone to tell their doctor about their health history, but in this case, the treatment is the same, so you don’t lose anything. reveal this information “.

Flood of data

Using applications, browsing the web, and using search engines are activities that can expose personal data, creating a major challenge in controlling the flow of personal information as people investigate or seek abortions. And often, when someone is looking for an abortion, they have already generated data that could reveal their state of health. Period tracking applications, for example, collect data that may seem benign but are clearly sensitive in the context of the possible criminalization of abortion. In a recent case, the Federal Trade Commission investigated and sanctioned the Flo Health fertility tracking application for sharing user health data with marketing and analytics companies, including Facebook and Google. And researchers have also found numerous examples of health websites that share personal data with third parties or track targeted ads without properly informing users and violating their privacy policies.

Using a search engine that doesn’t track potentially sensitive user data, such as DuckDuckGo, and browser extensions that block web crawlers, such as EFF’s Privacy Badger, are all steps that you can do this to significantly reduce the amount of browsing data that ends up in the hands of technology companies. And consider analog options, if possible, for recording and storing reproductive information, such as a notebook or a paper calendar where you record the details of your menstrual cycle.

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