Warren Unveils Bill to Ban Sales of Health Data With “Roe” Overturn Looming

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.Massachusetts), as the country prepares for the criminalization of abortion seekers by Republicans has introduced a bill that would prohibit data firms from selling sensitive information that could endanger abortion patient’s lives.

The Health and Location Data Protection Act would ban data firms from selling individuals’ health and location data, which Warren and fellow bill introducers say endangers not only the safety of abortion clinic visitors but also the safety of all Americans who may be unwittingly subject to surveillance. The Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general and people whose data has been sold would be able to sue firms if they’re found to be in violation of the law.

The bill is cosponsored by fellow DemocratsLike Senators Ron Wyden (Oregon), and Bernie Sanders (I–Vermont), it would be among the strictest regulations on consumer data collection and sales — an industry estimated to be worth $200 billion.

“Data brokers profit from the location data of millions of people, posing serious risks to Americans everywhere by selling their most private information,” Warren said in a statement. “With this extremist Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and states seeking to criminalize essential health care, it is more crucial than ever for Congress to protect consumers’ sensitive data.”

Warren will be retiring in May sent lettersSafeGraph and Placer.ai are two data companies that have been able to provide this information. sold informationInformation about who, what, and when people visited Planned Parenthood’s reproductive care facilities. These data could include their movements before and during the visit, as well as how long they stayed at the clinic. This could be used to determine if a person had an abortion. FacebookIt also sold personal information about abortion seekers.

Anti-abortionists already been usingLocation data used to harass patients in clinics With the likely overturn of RoeExtremist laws that allow abortion could put providers and seekers at greater risk. People to collect a bountyIf they expose providers, or that criminalize people who travel out of stateTo obtain an abortion in a state that allows it.

Experts Have been warnedPeople could also be at risk from health data collected by period tracking apps. The apps can detect when a period is due and whether a woman could be pregnant. Such data isn’t protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), experts say, as long as the app is free to use.

Privacy and data experts have endorsed this bill, emphasizing the risks that the largely unregulated industry of data sale poses to everyone.

“Health and location data are incredibly sensitive and can be used for a range of harms, from profiling and exploiting consumers to spying on citizens without warrants to carrying out stalking and violence,” Justin Sherman, research lead of Duke University’s Data Brokerage Project, said in a statement. “Companies should not be allowed to freely buy and sell Americans’ health and location data, on the open market, with virtually no restrictions.”

Indeed, sale of location data has been used to facilitate anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant crusades – in 2020For example, the Wall Street JournalThe Department of Homeland Security found that location data was collected from millions of mobile phones by government agencies to help them find and arrest undocumented migrants.