Following the US Supreme Court’s decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion, data privacy advocates and pro-abortion groups are raising concerns about tech companies sharing user data with law enforcement agencies in states where abortion is illegal.

Laura Petrone, principal analyst in the thematic team at GlobalData, comments: “If you’re seeking an abortion in the US, your privacy is more important than ever, as digital data could become evidence. So big tech companies must make their data handling policies transparent and explain how they plan to respond to data requests from law enforcement agencies.

“Encryption is an essential component of democratic societies, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted, especially in the post-Roe US. The US, UK, and Europe are debating the possibility of introducing more regulation in this sphere and giving intelligence agencies greater access to users’ data. Policymakers are discussing whether a backdoor should be enabled by private companies and shared with law enforcement agencies in the name of national security.

“Signal, Apple’s iMessage, and Meta’s WhatsApp are all end-to-end encrypted by default,” she adds. “However, they need to be transparent about whether they would collect, retain, and share data that could be used to identify and prosecute people seeking or providing abortions.

“Users also have the right to know what kind of moderation policy social media platforms like Facebook will adopt regarding abortion-related content. For example, whether or not they will remove misinformation about abortion posted on their platforms.”