Speed Reads

'bonkers dangerous'

A controversial data firm is selling abortion clinic visitors' location data

A controversial location data firm known as SafeGraph is selling information revealing where groups of people visiting family planning or abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood came from, "how long they stayed there, and where they then went afterwards," Vice's Motherboard reports.

The week's worth of data Motherboard purchased from SafeGraph for just over $160 included over 600 U.S. Planned Parenthood locations. With such information readily accessible, the U.S. could "see an increase in vigilante activity or forms of surveillance and harassment against those seeking or providing abortions," Motherboard posits.

"It's bonkers dangerous to have abortion clinics and then let someone buy the census tracks where people are coming from to visit that abortion clinic," cyber security research Zach Edwards told Motherboard of the data. "This is how you dox someone traveling across state lines for abortions — how you dox clinics providing this service."

SafeGraph "ultimately obtains location data from ordinary apps installed on peoples' phones," then "repackages that location data and other data into various products," Motherboard writes. The outlet also reported Tuesday that the CDC has purchased $420,000 worth of SafeGraph data for both COVID-19-related and non-COVID-19-related use.

SafeGraph was banned from the Google Play Store in June.

Revelations regarding the data sets are of greater note when taken alongside news of the Supreme Court draft opinion leaked Monday evening, in which the conservative majority appears poised to overturn federal abortion rights as protected under Roe v. Wade.