Vandana Slatter : “Post-Roe Data Debate Grows | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette”

State governments and federal regulators have been taking steps to protect individuals’ reproductive health information from being exposed, but a recent report by a U.S. senator has shed light on a disturbing practice involving the use of cellphone location data to target people who visit Planned Parenthood offices with anti-abortion ads.

Federal law prohibits medical providers from sharing health data without a patient’s consent, but there are no restrictions on digital tech companies tracking menstrual cycles or individuals’ locations and selling that data to data brokers. Efforts to pass federal legislation banning such practices have stalled due to opposition from the tech industry.

The issue of data privacy has become a contentious political issue in a country where most Republican-controlled states have imposed restrictions on abortion, while most Democratic states have sought to protect access to reproductive health services following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Abortion rights advocates are concerned that the use of such data could not only result in targeted advertising but also be used in law enforcement investigations or by anti-abortion activists to harm individuals seeking abortion services.

The report by Senator Ron Wyden revealed the largest known anti-abortion ad campaign targeting individuals who had visited abortion providers. The ads, which were funded by The Veritas Society, a nonprofit associated with Wisconsin Right to Life, were seen by millions of people across 48 states.

Wyden has called on the Federal Trade Commission to intervene in the case of the data broker involved and ensure that the location information collected is destroyed. He has also urged the Securities Exchange Commission to investigate potential securities fraud related to the use of this data.

Several states have already taken action to protect sensitive health information, with laws being passed to prevent the unauthorized sharing of personal health data and tracking of individuals visiting reproductive health facilities without their consent.

The issue of data privacy in the realm of reproductive health has gained momentum in state legislatures, with bills being introduced to address the potential misuse of sensitive health data. Lawmakers and privacy advocates are working to ensure that individuals’ reproductive health information is kept confidential and not exploited for political or commercial purposes.

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, the protection of personal health information is becoming increasingly crucial, and lawmakers are striving to enact measures that safeguard individuals’ privacy rights in the face of advancing technology and potential abuses of data.

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