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US abortion ruling sparks transatlantic tech tensions




The U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade raises concerns that tech companies will be forced to submit data on women seeking abortions. Europeans are stunned.

European citizens, policymakers and leaders have expressed outrage that US prosecutors may demand access to personal information.

While Americans are narrowing abortion rights, Europeans are moving in the opposite direction. Conservative Catholic countries such as Ireland have voted in favor of legalizing the procedure since 2018. Of her 27 EU member states, only Malta and Malta maintain restrictive laws. Only Poland. After the Supreme Court decision, the European Parliament voted 324 to 155 to pass a resolution in favor of making abortion rights part of her EU fundamental rights law.

This split comes at a delicate time in transatlantic digital relationships. Transatlantic data transfers have been in jeopardy since 2020, when the European Court of Justice disabled the data transfer system known as the Privacy Shield. A European court has ruled that US surveillance of EU data transmitted across the Atlantic violates the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Both European and American leaders have made it a priority to resolve the impasse. In March, her EU Commission Chair Ursula von der Leyen and her US President Joe Biden announced a political agreement on Privacy Shield 2.0. No details have been entered yet. The White House plans to issue an executive order outlining a compliance plan in the coming weeks.

But since the Supreme Court ruling, Europeans have become concerned that U.S. law enforcement agencies will demand access to data to prosecute abortion seekers.U.S. Data Brokers already makes a profit by collecting and reselling large amounts of data. The federal government captures consumer data to avoid obtaining warrants, and a reporter recently bought a $160 list of people who visited Planned Parenthood, a medical facility where abortions can be performed. The right to privacy is a fundamental human right in Europe, but not in the United States, says Mary Ziegler, a Stearns-Weaver-Miller law professor at Florida State University School of Law.

Jake Laperruque, Deputy Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Security and Surveillance Project, says location data is the biggest problem. Individuals can claim they have stopped using period tracking apps, but phone data showing visits to abortion clinics is hard to deny, and US courts have already accepted such evidence. Ziegler argues that the data is far more powerful than period trackers and other signs for proving abortion.

Technology companies are under pressure. In a blog post, Google said it will automatically delete location history for places considered personal. Examples include domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics, and addiction treatment facilities. According to Google, police warrants for such data have increased significantly since 2018, making him 25% of all warrants received in 2020.

Other tech companies are following suit. and Safegraph, which previously sold information about individuals who visited Planned Parenthoods, have agreed to stop selling abortion data.

The immediate danger to trans-Atlantic relations centers on the new Privacy Shield. Europe’s GDPR provides strict protections for sensitive data, including location. If US government agencies are able to avoid these obligations, the loss of privacy will have implications, says Eduardo Ustaran, a partner at London-based Hogan Lovells International LLP.

European companies in the United States may be subject to warrants to hand over data. Ustaran warns that law enforcement requests for location, health status, and other sensitive data are considered very serious violations of the Privacy Shield Principles.

Despite the dangers, the abortion debate may not prevent Privacy Shield 2.0 from being built. Leaders in Washington and Brussels want the deal, seeing it as a concrete move to improve relations from turmoil with the Trump administration and maintain a common front against Russian aggression in Ukraine. . Ivana Bartoletti, global chief privacy officer at Indian tech company Wipro, has a strong commitment to amend the Privacy Shield on both sides of the Atlantic and predicts that these concerns are unlikely to completely dismantle the effort. I’m here.

However, the updated Privacy Shield is weak and subject to new negative rulings by the European Court of Justice. The split over abortion may unsettle some European judges about the dangers of European personal data being transferred across oceans. A recent analysis by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills LLP concluded that some legal challenge is inevitable.

Potential reforms in Washington could avert this danger. A bipartisan group of senators recently proposed the Is Not For Sale Act, a Fourth Amendment that would close loopholes for data brokers. A broad U.S. federal privacy law would reassure Europeans. will be split.

Before the Supreme Court’s ruling, analysts say the US and Europe appeared to be moving in the same direction in expanding privacy protections. Analysts now believe the momentum has broken. A global understanding of the right to privacy has driven that convergence, he says. This fight over abortion threatens to destroy years of work.

Grace Endrud and Daniel Hayes are interns at CEPAs Digital Innovation Initiative. Bill Echikson edits his Bandwidth.




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