CONSUMER ALERT: Attorney General James Provides Guidance to Protect Digital Privacy for People Seeking Abortion Care

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AG James offers tips to limit unwanted sharing of personal information
Tracked by some social media platforms and everyday apps

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today offered advice to protect the privacy of people seeking abortion care and prevent digital tracking and sharing of unwanted data. Recent reports indicate that online platforms and consumer apps, such as those widely used to track fertility and menstrual cycles, collect and share consumers’ personal information. These websites and apps may track detailed breeding history, physical location, and other personal information, and this data may be unknowingly shared with third parties. This information can then be used against people seeking abortion care or those helping them without their knowledge. With access to abortion under greater threat than ever, it is important for New Yorkers and other consumers to be aware of how their information is used and shared.

“People use fertility tracking apps and tracking services daily, but if they’re not careful, their personal information can end up in the wrong hands,” said Attorney General James. “With abortion rights in jeopardy, it is more important than ever that everyone takes their digital privacy seriously. I urge everyone, especially those visiting abortion clinics or seeking medical care. abortion, to follow the advice offered by my office and to be more careful about the apps and websites they use. Safe and accessible abortion care is the future we are fighting for and I am committed to protect the reproductive freedom of every woman.

“It is essential that the privacy of those seeking abortion services be protected, given the threats of legal action against patients and providers in other states,” said State Senator Liz Krueger. “I am working with Attorney General James and my colleagues on legislation to improve privacy, and I commend the Attorney General for taking this proactive step and providing patients with valuable information on how to better secure their personal information.

Attorney General James recommends that people seeking abortion care take the following steps to protect their digital privacy:

  • Use a VPN and private web browser: When you visit websites, information, such as your location and the websites you have visited, is shared with the website and your Internet service provider. To limit this data sharing, you can download and use tools like a private browser, which can block website trackers, and a virtual private network (VPN) on your devices. A VPN hides your IP address so websites and ISPs can’t track your location, and many are available for free. You should also use a private search engine, which will not save your search history, when looking for abortion care information.
  • Send messages through end-to-end encrypted platforms: When you message someone about abortion care, use a secure messaging service that uses end-to-end encryption. End-to-end encryption is designed to ensure that only you and the recipient of your message can see the content of your message, making it difficult for a third party to eavesdrop on your messages.
  • Be careful what you share on social media: Information you post or add to your social media profile can fall into the wrong hands, so be careful what information you decide to share. You should also make your social media account private so that strangers cannot find information about you.
  • Manage your online privacy settings: Big tech companies have vast amounts of data about their users. However, you can adjust your account privacy settings to limit how the Company collects and shares your information. For example, Google Maps collects information about all the places you have visited or searched for, but you can limit the location history information linked to your account as described here.

If you believe you are being tracked when trying to seek abortion care, contact our office for assistance by completing and submitting an online complaint to the Bureau of Internet and Technology or by calling (800 ) 771-7755.

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