It’s stunning how much big tech companies and data brokers know about us. But beyond an invasion of our privacy, the massive amounts of data being collected on everything we do are increasingly being used for surveillance by law enforcement.

With the looming demise of Roe v. Wade, this creates a significant online risk for those who may one day have an unwanted pregnancy, writes information scientist Nora McDonald. The lack of data privacy could become a threat to their health, legal status and social standing, she explains.

“Anyone in a state where abortion becomes illegal who relies on the internet for information, products and services related to reproductive health would be subject to online policing,” she writes. McDonald explains how people are at risk from their internet activity, cellphone use and even simply where they go.

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Eric Smalley

Science + Technology Editor

Apps for tracking reproductive health are convenient, but the data they collect could be used against you. Tarik Kizilkaya/iStock via Getty Images

Online data could be used against people seeking abortions if Roe v. Wade falls

Nora McDonald, University of Cincinnati

Data privacy is an abstract issue for most people, even though virtually everyone is at risk. If abortion becomes illegal, digital surveillance could take an even darker turn.

Arts + Culture

Health + Medicine

Politics + Society

Science + Technology

  • Could people breathe the air on Mars?

    Phylindia Gant, University of Florida; Amy J. Williams, University of Florida

    Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and one of our closest neighbors in space. But it’s not a very welcoming place for an Earthling to visit.

Ethics + Religion


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Reader Comments 💬

    “What is important to realize is that almost all countries do have a mechanism by which fossil fuel companies can complain and request compensation. It is called the domestic court system. Nothing in international law precludes a foreign firm from suing in a court of their host state for violations of contract or taking of property. The problem is that, for many of these firms, compensation has the potential to be much higher in ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement) – often far exceeding what they have put into the investment. Removing ISDS will not remove from these firms the fundamental right to protect their private property.”

    – Author Rachel Thrasher on the story How treaties protecting fossil fuel investors could jeopardize global efforts to save the climate – and cost countries billions


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