The US Supreme Court has overturned the Roe Vs Wade case, which was the 1973 landmark case that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion. Now, states will be the ones to determine whether this rule will be implemented or not.
About 26 states will likely ban or nearly ban abortion, given their political inclinations and the opinion of the vast majority in those states.
The verdict will dramatically change the way of work for tech companies, especially the ones that collect user data or offer services in reproductive care.
Tech companies are already responding to a new host of federal laws and the challenges they’ll face in the aftermath.
Which Are The Tech Companies That Are Offering Support To Their Employees?
While most of the tech companies have remained mum about the ruling, they are making their employees aware of their stand on the verdict.
Uber and Lyft said they’d cover legal fees for drivers who face legal trouble in states with restrictive abortion laws.
Abortion-related travel coverage and relocation will become key issues for tech companies in the wake of Roe vs Wade. Companies including Yelp, Amazon, Match Group, and Bumble have already promised to reimburse workers who travel outside state for abortions.
Dozens of tech companies are headquartered in states that have put a blanket ban on abortion, and almost every big tech company has some presence in those states.
Some companies such as Slack have allowed their employees to leave these states and work from elsewhere. But as per recent rulings that is not the solution to this issue.
What Are The Legal Issues That Tech Companies Face?
Tech companies are in a difficult position. There are fears that law enforcement may start imposing archaic laws and forcibly access user data to prosecute people seeking abortions.
While the big tech companies such as Google, Meta, and Apple have not publicly made a statement after the ruling, smaller tech companies are already being targeted. These companies, such as period tracking apps, have taken a public stand against the decision and are now in fear if the data from these apps will be used to target users.
As reported by The Guardian, Digital rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has advised companies in the tech world to pre-emptively prepare for a future in which they are served with subpoenas and warrants seeking user data to prosecute abortion seekers and providers.
It recommends companies allow pseudonymous or anonymous access, stop behavioral tracking, and retain as little data as possible. It also advocated for end-to-end encryption by default and refrain from collecting any location information.
What Is The Outcome Of This For Women In Banned States?
The National Abortion Federation, which offers financial, travel, and case management assistance for people seeking care out of their state, is restructuring its case management model to better serve people in states where abortion is limited or banned. They are also looking at building mechanisms to understand clinic capacity by collecting data about appointment availability, attending doctors, etc. to get travelers the earliest slots available.
Some members of the judiciary such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, are also working toward tackling the data privacy risk. She has introduced a bill that would bar “data brokers from selling or transferring location data and health data”.
“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 before the final ruling. “With this extremist supreme court poised to overturn Roe vs Wade and states seeking to criminalize essential health care, it is more crucial than ever for Congress to protect consumers’ sensitive data.”