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Tipsheet

Gov. Whitmer Urges Tech Companies to Protect Abortion Data

AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File

This week, pro-abortion Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) urged the nation’s leading tech companies to take measures to protect users’ data pertaining to abortion.

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Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D) sent the letter to the heads of Amazon, Meta (which owns Facebook and Instagram), Google’s parent company Alphabet, Apple and Microsoft.

“We have already begun to see instances of private data used to prosecute women seeking health care," Whitmer and Gilchrist wrote in the letter. They added that users’ searches, message history and location data could be used to target women who obtain abortions and the abortion providers themselves.

"The technology from which your company generates revenue, especially online advertising, search, and social networking, is critical to connecting women to the care they need," Whitmer and Gilchrist continued. "You have a responsibility to help them, not harm them."

Whitmer shared the letter on Twitter where she described abortion as “healthcare.”

Leah covered last month how a Nebraska mother allegedly helped her teenage daughter carry out an illegal abortion, after 20 weeks, then burn and bury the baby. However, mainstream media outlets were focused on the fact that tech giant Facebook provided the mother and daughter’s messages to police and that they were being prosecuted for an abortion.

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This week, the Federal Trade Commission announced it was moving forward with a lawsuit against Kochava, an adtech company based in Sandpoint, Idaho, for allegedly selling sensitive data that includes geolocation information that exposes people’s visits to abortion clinics.

“Kochava collects a wealth of information about consumers and their mobile devices by, among other means, purchasing data from other data brokers to sell to its own customers,” the lawsuit reads. “Kochava then sells customized data feeds to its clients to, among other purposes, assist in advertising and analyzing foot traffic at stores or other locations. Among other categories, Kochava sells timestamped latitude and longitude coordinates showing the location of mobile devices.”

Townhall covered Aug. 19 that the FTC was threatening to sue Kochava over their practices. In July, President Biden signed an executive order protecting abortion access Biden summoned the FTC to help guard data pertaining to abortion.

“The Commission is committed to using the full scope of its legal authorities to protect consumers’ privacy. We will vigorously enforce the law if we uncover illegal conduct that exploits Americans’ location, health, or other sensitive data,” the agency wrote in a blog post days after Biden signed the order. 

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In July, Whitmer signed a $76 million budget bill for the state but vetoed funds and tax credits for pro-life pregnancy centers and adoption programming that would have equaled less than $20 million, less than 0.03 percent of the entire budget.

In her line-item veto, Whitmer wrote that these kinds of services “harm women’s health.”

“Any efforts to undermine a woman's ability to make her own medical decisions with her trusted health-care provider will earn my disapproval,” she wrote.

“We have the largest budget in history, and we want to throw a bone to adoptive parents, and she's vetoing that?” Genevieve Marnon, the legislative director for Michigan Right to Life, told Bridge Michigan after Whitmer vetoed the pro-life funding. “Wow, she's for women alright.”

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