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Texas ban on abortion could lead to more data requests

Image for an article titled Texas Heartbeat Act opens the door to a flood of data requests targeting abortion providers

Photo: Linda M. Gonzalez-Poole (Getty Images)

Texas Heartbeat Act, which prohibited abortion After six weeks in Texas, it has many troubling corners, but one of the less obvious is the potential role large tech companies can play in facilitating upcoming litigation against healthcare providers.

Law that critics to tell not to give The ability for women to know they are pregnant has changed state rules to allow civil lawsuits against any doctor or organization that has an abortion after the deadline. Such lawsuits can also be brought against anyone who even “helps and abets” in the process, potentially opening the door to a flood of arbitrary cases.

An attempt to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court confused earlier this week. Now, any individual or group in Texas can “bring civil action against any person” who “performs or induces abortion in violation” of the law. The vagueness of the new rule is such that many people fear it could throw a wide net – even potentially applying to Uber driver who takes the person to the clinic for an abortion.

In this situation, critics noted the possibility of an increase in the number of data requests associated with such court cases. How protocol recently pointed out, legal process opening– when one party asks the other to provide information that may be relevant, – may allow large amounts of data to be submitted to the court. In the outlet, it is written like this:

How will Facebook respond to a subpoena requesting the IP address of the abortion rights group admin who raised funds on the platform? What will Google do if they receive a request for the name and email address of an advertiser targeting Texas women with information on how to get an abortion?

We contacted Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter to ask them about their position on data requests related to lawsuits related to the new law. None of them came back to us, but we will update this story if they do.

V Electronic Frontier Foundation, who often speaks out on behalf of data privacy rights, said the new law would open up gateways for flimsy lawsuits against vulnerable targets, the likes of which can embolden vigilantes and threaten free speech.

“The law creates a group of bounty hunters who can use the courts to punish and silence anyone whose online propaganda, education and other speech about abortion makes them angry.” EFF stated in a recent article… “This will undoubtedly lead to a flood of private lawsuits against online speakers who publish information about abortion rights and access to abortion in Texas, without particular attention to the merits of those claims or the protections of the First Amendment provided by this speech.”

Speaking with protocol, Evan Greer non-commercial internet group of lawyers Fight for future said the law could potentially “lead to an explosion of legal requests for user data from tech companies that store large quantities of it.” Greer added that, in her opinion, the law could be “violated by anti-abortion groups who could potentially use the disclosure process in a civil lawsuit to demand confidential information.”

Gizmodo reached out to Health of the whole woman, the abortion service provider who filed a recent ill-fated legal challenge against the law. In a telephone interview, WWH corporate vice president Andrea Ferrigno said the Heartbeat Act was “unprecedented” and would backfire on women across the state.

“It’s hard to say which direction this is going to go,” Ferrigno said, describing the law as a “widespread” attack on abortion rights that could trap people as diverse as family members of women who have illegal abortions. “We will continue to fight this, but we will also abide by it,” she added regarding the new law. “This is the only choice we have.”

As previously stated, no tech company responded to requests for comment for this story. That kind of silence has so far been a typical response from the tech industry to the new Texas law – perhaps best expressed in a recent post by Elon Musk. hand washing remark on issue: “I would prefer not to get involved in politics.” This is strange for the tech industry, which at least quite often verbally claims progressive ideals.

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