back to article Google location tracking to forget you were ever at that medical clinic

Google on Friday pledged to update its location history system so that visits to medical clinics and similarly sensitive places are automatically deleted. In this post-Roe era of America, there is concern that cops and other law enforcement will demand the web giant hand over information about its users if they are suspected …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Devil

    Google's minimum viable response

    It's not as if the line stopping shortly before the clinic and the line starting shortly away from the clinic could be used by the inquisition as proof of guilt, could it?

    What about search, email, or calendar appointments held in the Googly cloud or AdWords recommendations based on this data? Also they simply cannot have anything to do with health, but health was one of their next big markets. Their cloud services cannot be used for serving healthcare organisations either.

    Pretty soon people are going to realise the only solution is not to be continually tracked, but it's difficult to get Google to understand that when their income depends on their not understanding it.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Google's minimum viable response

      Just tell law enforcement that they now delete ALL location data. See how they like that

      1. chivo243 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Google's minimum viable response

        Smart money is on NOT taking your phone with you! It's not against the law to forget your phone at home... Yet!

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Google's minimum viable response

      > the only solution is not to be continually tracked

      They always claimed that tracking is harmless, only the most authoritarian regimes could possibly find a way to misuse it, not our own respectful and freedom-loving democracies...

      Well, happens the "Land of the Free" is starting to turn slightly Taliban, and you soon might get into serious problems if you don't fit the image the local zealots might have of the perfect god-fearing citizen. Wrong religion, sexual preferences, skin color, origins, taste in music, no/too much sugar in your coffee, all this might soon cost you your freedom or even your life, and who will rat you out? Your dear uncle Google, who has gathered all that incriminating information, and is burning to sell it to whomever asks for it...

      Yes, yes, tracking is harmless - until it becomes harmful, but we won't start thinking ahead, do we. Why would we: Our corporate nannies will take good care of us, well, most of us.

      I can't imagine what Hitler would had given to have a nice Google database to work with: Who visited a synagogue, ordered a kippah online, or looked up Jewish stuff. No need to rely on slow and unreliable denunciation, here is a nice solid database of all who need to be eliminated.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Google's minimum viable response

        I seem to recall IBM giving Hitler a leg up. The more things change...

        1. G.Y.

          Re: Google's minimum viable response

          also Stalin

          1. Stuart Castle Silver badge

            Re: Google's minimum viable response

            Re: IBM.

            We had a whole lecture in mu degree on the tricks IBM pulled to trade in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

        2. NATTtrash
          Devil

          Re: Google's minimum viable response

          And that is exactly why Germany has its strict privacy laws (Datenschutz). Although crumbling nowadays because many experience it as a PITA for their personal (financial, national security, what ever) interests.

          The more things change...

          Ah well... Where IBM "helped out" in the past to e.g. make sense of peoples ethnic origins and "usable" connections, nowadays we luckily have the streamlined DYI ancestry.com.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Google's minimum viable response

            The laws won't help if the Supreme Court is a coup court. Speaking from local experience, the law can say X and the (military controlled) court can interpret that as !X and often does. The words of the law don't matter, the case law doesn't matter, they were not put in power by any democratic process, their loyalty is to the ones that put them in power.

            The SCOTUS will simply require Google provide that information, and thus they cannot delete it. It is evidence of a crime, 'murder of a fetus who would have been Einstein/Curie', as they often put it.

            You see the same pattern in the USA, with a long standing NY open-gun-carry law that survived many challenges over its 109 years. That law is suddenly killed by the Republican controlled supreme court, just after 19 kids are murdered in Texas and everyone is calling for MORE gun control. They don't care about the dead Texan kids, or the prior case law, the law doesn't matter, only their political affiliation matters.

            Again, most of the Republican SCOTUS judges were put in power with Republicans *losing* the popular vote. One of them was put there by illegitimate process. Hundreds of State judges too, are there, only by the same trick. They are not loyal to the law because they did not gain power from legal process.

            Who should decide to carry a child to term or get an abortion? The mother? Or Greg Abbott's pollsters? Because that's the real thing here, they polled it among their base, it scored well, they don't need a majority of the votes (and haven't won a majority of votes for most of the last 3 decades), they only need their base to vote to stay in power. So Greg Abbott's pollsters took away mothers right to decide to keep the child or not.

            You see the "independent state legislature theory" going before SCOTUS next year, its a judicial coup, it has no basis in law. But it gives Republicans eternal power regardless of how people vote. I wonder whether Ginni Thomas asked for a Presidential pardon for her coup efforts, and whether her husband, supreme court judge Thomas is advising her on staying out of jail for those coup efforts, while he helps ensure she never faces prosecution by ensuring his group is always in power.

            1. jmch Silver badge

              Re: Google's minimum viable response

              "'murder of a fetus who would have been Einstein/Curie', as they often put it."

              ...forgetting that it could also have become a Hitler / Stalin etc!!!

            2. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Google's minimum viable response

              "The SCOTUS will simply require Google provide that information, and thus they cannot delete it."

              Maybe this is a cunning ploy for privacy - make it completely illegal to delete or refuse to hand over any and all data in an attempt to get the tech giants fighting over privacy by not collecting it all to start with.

      2. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Google's minimum viable response

        Are you going to, or have you ever been to, an abortion clinic?

        Next up, Google search history for the banned topic of abortion and/or abortion clinics.

    3. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Google's minimum viable response

      > It's not as if the line stopping shortly before the clinic and the line starting shortly away from the clinic could be used by the inquisition as proof of guilt, could it?

      The other issue is - how will Google even know a location is a location that needs to be filtered out? I mean, Google isn't a pubic utility, so they don't get automatically notified when a new facility opens or an old one closes. There can be a lag of months, if not years, between Google being updated with an addresses purpose and it's use for said purpose. And some of these facilities, especially violence shelters, are 'secret' (not national security secret, but more commercial secret/off the grid), they are safe-houses that don't advertise or otherwise publicly list their locations or even their existence outside of "need to know" circles, such as domestic violence councillors and other such services (whether government or private) precisely so that abusive partners can't just type in "find domestic shelters near me" in a search engine to stake out to find their victim.

      1. Bill Gray

        Re: Google's minimum viable response

        "...I mean, Google isn't a pubic utility..."

        Are you sure? They've always seemed like a bunch of (censored)s to me.

        Aside from that, you are correct; even if Google (or other tech giant) really did Take Our Customer's Privacy Seriously, it'd be easy to mess up. About your only way to stay safe is leave your phone at home, don't do any searches for sensitive topics, and don't drive your own vehicle through any of the various licence tag scanners used for toll collection on the way.

    4. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Google's minimum viable response

      That's pretty much my concern... if there's a 3 hour gap in location data, and the gap starts a couple of hundred yards away from a clinic and restarts again in a similar fashion, the fact that gap exists is as much a so-called reasonable inference that the 'suspect' at the time may have spent those 3 hours within the vicinity/on the premises of said clinic, as location data that doesn't vary much for those 3 hours and *shows* that the 'suspect' spent their 3 hours at said clinic.

      Of course, making tracking impossible by widening the circle in which tracking is deleted is an option, but even then, with some reasonable footwork (all it takes is a pernicious private eye and/or their flunkies), it can be deduced that the 'suspect' was not in any of the establishments covered by such a location-blank.

      1. ChrisC Silver badge

        Re: Google's minimum viable response

        "but even then, with some reasonable footwork (all it takes is a pernicious private eye and/or their flunkies), it can be deduced that the 'suspect' was not in any of the establishments covered by such a location-blank."

        I think you missed out an "other" there - the only way to be in with a shout of showing that the "suspect" was visiting a clinic etc within the blanked-out area would be to show that they weren't in any other establishment within the area, and even then there's always the "I just felt like parking up and reading a book/having a nap/doing something else that wouldn't generate a digital footprint for an hour or two before continuing my journey" defence.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Google's minimum viable response

          You're forgetting that you are guilty until clearly proven otherwise (and even then...).

          A woman in her fertile years taking suspicious trips to unholy places where they kill unborn babies will have to make sure she has a rock solid alibi. "Reasonable doubt" and other bleeding heart liberal nonsense won't cut it with the talibans, as medieval witch trials have shown over and over again.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google's minimum viable response

        It doesn't take 3 hours. Even 10 years ago it only took 30 minutes.

      3. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Google's minimum viable response

        Even more interesting, will location data ONLY be deleted within that radius if they visit the clinic? So someone visiting the bar 2 doors over IS tracked for instance. Then it becomes a simple: Well your location data was deleted so you MUST have visited this clinic!

        If it's for going anywhere NEAR said clinic then Google just shot their location tracking in the foot. I declare my home to be a weight loss center! And my job! And my entire local MTB trail! Stop tracking me Google.

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Big Brother

    controls to delete all or part of those records, or switch it off

    Remind me again why 'switch it off' isn't the default option on location services?

    After all, how much do I need to know where I've been - and how much of that history do I need to have on a commercial service in another country and jurisdiction? Why is even legal to collect this data in the first place?

    1. John D'oh!

      Re: controls to delete all or part of those records, or switch it off

      I once found a lost mobile phone because I had location tracking on. It was lost in a foreign country in a city of 25 mllion, so I initially thought it was gone for good, especially when I looked on Google maps and saw it was miles away from where we had been that day. When I checked later, it right outside the apartment we were staying in... Looking at the location history I worked out we had left it on the bus 12 hours earlier and it was still there going round and round the city. We went out and stopped every no 34 bus going past and asked if we could take a look and finally there it was!

      In general tho, I don't have location tracking on, but it does have it's uses. On another note, do you use Google's keyboard or a third party's? Either way I would be much more concerned about the data that is potentially collecting that my location.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: controls to delete all or part of those records, or switch it off

        > it does have it's uses

        Seriously, how often does this specific situation arise?...

        Sorry, your case was just a case of extraordinary luck, definitely not an excuse or justification for stalking everybody 24/7.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: controls to delete all or part of those records, or switch it off

        "In general tho, I don't have location tracking on,"

        But Google (or Apple) still know where you are. As do the Telcos. Not as accurately, of course, but they do know,

        1. TimMaher Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: they know where you are.

          Well, you are going around and around on a 34 bus.

        2. stiine Silver badge

          Re: controls to delete all or part of those records, or switch it off

          But the telco's do, in fact, know exactly where you are with GPS coordinates from the baseband controller in your phone. You might know it as E911 (depending on your country it probably has a different name.)

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: controls to delete all or part of those records, or switch it off

      how much of that history do I need to have on a commercial service in another country and jurisdiction?

      Speaking of "another country and jurisdiction", it's only suddenly become a problem now it's become a problem in the US. It's not as if this isn't already a problem in a tonne of other countries around the world, but it seems Google wasn't even aware of it. I wonder how many legal requests they get in e.g. Middle Eastern countries for this kind of information.

    3. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: controls to delete all or part of those records, or switch it off

      Remind me again why 'switch it off' isn't the default option on location services?

      For your convenience?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So in summary: Google is has a database of sensitive locations, and continuously matches your location against it, and can provide your location and matches in real time time, and can store it after a match for government agency that can legally demand it.

    But they aren't going to save it unless they are asked to.

    I feel secure now. (OK, only because I lack certain plumbing)

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      No problem, the cell phone company still has records of where and when your cell phone was in the vicinity of a clinic. In cities, ANPR will have logged you driving there.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        ANPR is not a concern

        The abortion clinics are located in states where abortion is legal, and they will not provide ANPR data to states who make it illegal.

        The worry is that those Taliban run states will be able to get hold of location data - though I'd be more worried about location data from cell companies than from Google. Google can say they won't give out that info or don't save it when a device is near an abortion clinic, but you'll never get such an assurance from the big cellular companies.

        Heck, AT&T's HQ is in Texas, I could see those bozos passing a law requiring AT&T to give up location info on demand, but all cellular companies do business in Texas etc. and could be subject to such draconian laws.

        Worse, those cellular companies sell location data on the open market, so the states don't even have to go directly to them to get it. They can get it from a third party, allowing the cellular companies to play dumb and truthfully state "we never give any state government location data to track women seeking abortions".

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: ANPR is not a concern

          And with a $10,000 bounty for information leading to a successful prosecution paid to any private citizen or business even just for assisting someone to have an abortion, it's going to make for some very interesting and scary moments in Texas especially. Potentially even cases against public transport, eg bus/train/airplane companies as "accessories" (likely to fail since the prosecution will have to prove intent or knowledge), but certainly anyone providing information on which States people could travel to, addresses of abortion clinics in other States. Search engines may have to block this info in those States banning abortions so as not to fall foul of "providing aid".

          Interesting case in Malta invloving a US woman and what can happen in a jurisdiction with an abortion ban, I'm not sure if their law is as draconian as Texas though.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: ANPR is not a concern

            Potentially even cases against public transport, eg bus/train/airplane companies as "accessories" (likely to fail since the prosecution will have to prove intent or knowledge)

            The goal isn't for people to actually to be able to collect the bounties, it is for people to legally be able to sue and install fear in anyone who thinks they might possibly be helping a woman get an abortion. It is trying to provide a legal chilling effect.

            If an abortion provider in another state arranges for an Uber to take a pregnant woman to an airport the right wing do gooder nutjobs will want to sue the Uber driver. Unless she tells him he has no idea why she's going to the airport, but if they sue him anyway maybe Uber drivers start to refuse to take pregnant women to the airport just in case? All sorts of unintended effects here, and with a Supreme Court willing to back up crackpot schemes like this because it serves their political goals, it is going to get messy.

            I wouldn't be shocked if they decide states rights overrule the interstate commerce clause when it comes to abortion, so they can allow anti abortion states to make it illegal for women living in their states to get an abortion in another state.

  4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Culture

    These things are only controversial because we were somewhat conditioned to ridicule such things plus there is an element of envy.

    If Google was tracking the instances of someone saying "bollocks", nobody would have cared about any implications of that.

    That being said, has anyone figured out a snap on device that would trick the location service feeding it completely different coordinates?

    For instance it could mirror your movements, but at completely different section of the city.

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: Culture

      e/OS the deGoogled phone os has a privacy settings option to do just that. Can be set to look realistic by being only a little off the actual location or can be set to be total bollocks.

      Only problem is that your sat nav apps are useless for giving directions.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Culture

        "Only problem is that your sat nav apps are useless for giving directions."

        Yet another reason for having a dedicated SatNav separate from your phone, ideally not a web connected one :-)

  5. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

    Eric Shit

    How did Eric Shit phrase his response to people's privacy concerns? Something like, "if you don't want us to know what you've been doing, maybe you shouldn't be doing it." I doubt if that attitude has suddenly disappeared any more than I believe that Google has found a conscience, so I doubt that harmful personal information is going to miraculously vanish either; and Google also doesn't have an unblemished track record of complying with some pretty oppressive demands.

    Maybe we will see, but I'm sceptical and I think it would be ill advised to trust them.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Eric Shit

      > "if you don't want us to know what you've been doing, maybe you shouldn't be doing it."

      Sure, and the answer here is clearly that women should remain virgins till their marriage, after which they should produce a bunch of fresh soldiers who can fight for our country. Like in our forefathers' times.

      Come on, don't try to tell me those zealots don't want to get rid of women, cooping them up in the house looking after a dozen children. More job opportunities for men, isn't it! Great opportunities for all those who dreamed to be a secretary, nurse, nanny, or any other menial low-paid job.

      1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

        Re: Eric Shit

        Sometimes remaining a virgin can be tricky.

        10-year-old rape victim forced to travel from Ohio to Indiana for abortion

        Asked if the girl should have to have the baby, [Republican governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota] responded that “every single life – every single life is precious. This tragedy is horrific. But, in South Dakota, the law today is that the abortions are illegal, except to save the life of the mother.”

  6. razorfishsl

    I wonder if Microsoft is going to do the same?

    their authenticator app geo-locates/ BLE/GPS every 5 minutes (even they say it is 15..)

    then REPORTS it back to AZURE, making it FREELY available to company/police and even 3rd party microsoft agents.

    1. Sp1z

      I'm not saying you're wrong necessarily, but I've just check on my iPhone and Microsoft Authenticator doesn't even have entries for Bluetooth or Location Services, so how would they have got that through the App Store?

      Or are we just talking about Android where all bets are off with Google anyway?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Authenticator does location detection, it uses your phone number and/or IP address by default but it can use the GPS - the requirement needs to be turned on by IT group policies

        If IT demand GPS location you get a pop-up on the phone requesting permission. See common-questions-about-the-microsoft-authenticator-app

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          So don't take your work phone to the clinic. Assuming your employer provides a phone and doesn't expect people to buy their own equipment for work purposes.

      2. logicalextreme

        Yeah, I'd imagine that you'd get a notification pretty sharpish if it tried to access location data. Authy on Android doesn't seem to do anything like that. Android's also begun automatically revoking permissions from apps where it doesn't think those permissions have been used in some time, which has occasionally annoyed me by meaning I have to grant the permission again…but on the whole I think I'd rather do that than the alternative.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "Google Account Level Enhanced Safe Browsing"

    Thank you Google, but I have Enhanced Safe Browsing already.

    It's called Firefox with uBlock Origin and NoScript.

    Fuck off.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: "Google Account Level Enhanced Safe Browsing"

      "Safe Browsing", on Firefox at least, consists of a method for Google to set a cookie normal add-ons can't touch, and which reappears each time you delete it. I didn't bother to check if it is actually used to track you (I guess it is, because else what's the point?), but unchecking the "Deceptive Content and Dangerous Software Protection" setting in Firefox's Settings gets definitely rid of that rogue Google cookie.

      Word to the wise: As Laocoon already said, "timeo Google et dona ferentes".

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "Google Account Level Enhanced Safe Browsing"

        "but unchecking the "Deceptive Content and Dangerous Software Protection" setting in Firefox's Settings gets definitely rid of that rogue Google cookie."

        Unchecking? That sounds a bit counter-intuitive. Was that a typo, or are Firefox in bed with Google for dark pattern practices?

        1. Clausewitz4.0
          Devil

          Re: "Google Account Level Enhanced Safe Browsing"

          Search for Pi-Hole and add Google's safebrowsing domains into that list. I advise to also add ads.google.com, and see how many websites actually hosts FONTS/JS/CSS into google infrastructure. A LOT. People just grab a bootstrap code half hosted on google and keep spreading it. Sad.

        2. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: "Google Account Level Enhanced Safe Browsing"

          > Was that a typo, or are Firefox in bed with Google for dark pattern practices?

          Who pays Firefox? Google. So yes, they are obviously bound to promote sugar daddy Google's ware, but at the same time they allow you to deactivate it all quite easily (even non-nerds can do it).

          Sorry, the perfect Google-free world doesn't exist. Firefox is a compromise, but one which works (so far).

  8. heyrick Silver badge

    Oh lookee here...

    You have a suspicious missing part of your travel history that corresponds to a place you shouldn't be. Burn, witch! Oh, sorry, wrong century. Burn, baby murderer!

    1. imanidiot Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Oh lookee here...

      Same difference.

      I'll allow it.

  9. R.O.

    Thousands I tell you!

    Check out USA police using general "reverse location search warrants" which demand and get google location data on thousands of people in one fell swoop. It's one of the issues America fought the revolution about, general search warrants, issued by the king. Now the king is your local beat cop using a fill in the blank computer generated warrant rubber stamped by an anonymous judge. The difference is, no one (with any influence) cares anymore. It's for your own good comrade.

  10. Sparkus

    Now to make this an option for all kinds of 'establishments'.

    Liquor stores, marihuana 'clinics', border crossings, certain highway corridors, certain political offices, certain transit hubs, etc, etc.

    And stop trying to tie my location history to my IMEI!!

  11. DS999 Silver badge

    I mean its certainly not the best solution

    But the only way to be 100% safe from such tracking is for a woman to not bring her phone when she travels to the clinic. Maybe swap phones with a male, who still can travel across state lines without suspicion falling upon them? Or buy/rent a burner phone?

    Maybe that's a service Planned Parenthood etc. can offer - when you schedule an appointment across state lines they mail you a phone you can use for the trip, and then you mail it back after.

    Then when state busybodies access her cellular location info they find out she was sitting at home.

    1. Foxglove

      Re: I mean its certainly not the best solution

      DS999,

      That is a possible solution, but it should not ever be necessary in a civilised society.

      The US has been on my personal 'do not travel' list for a while, I can't see it coming back on.

      Perhaps if non-US people who take this issue seriously all said that they wouldn't travel to the US for business or pleasure until the verdict was repealed there might be a chance of an impact over time.

      Of course the current bunch of ignorant zealots would ignore the pressure, but over time maybe there could be some change in the right direction?

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: I mean its certainly not the best solution

        Perhaps if non-US people who take this issue seriously all said that they wouldn't travel to the US for business or pleasure until the verdict was repealed

        I bet most of those on the extreme right who applaud this ruling would be fine with foreigners not visiting. Many of them are pretty insular and have never set foot outside the US, or if they have it was somewhere close like Mexico or Costa Rica in areas where they are mostly surrounded by Americans. They would say "fine, I don't want those dirty socialists from Europe here anyway!"

        This is a problem we'll have to solve here. Some people who currently vote republican must decide to only support pro choice primary candidates, and if that doesn't work, to vote democrat even if they disagree with them on a lot of other stuff. That's a tall ask in today's polarized world, where all the right wing media is telling people that democrats aren't good people who disagree with them (like what John McCain said) but are pedophiles.

        I'm a long time registered republican but I started moving from them in 2008 when McCain was forced by the right wing to choose that Alaska twit as his running mate, and really gave up when they nominated Trump. I just haven't bothered to change my registration, because I hold out hope I can still exercise some measure of sanity by voting for the least crazy republican during primaries.

        Perhaps these crazy QAnon theories come about by design. The right wing extremists knew once they got the Supreme Court they wanted and Roe was overridden despite a clear majority opposed to that, they'd need to scare moderate republicans into staying in line. Hence the QAnon conspiracy theories appearing just in time and eventually going so mainstream even Fox News repeats many of their tropes.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: I mean its certainly not the best solution

          > I bet most of those on the extreme right who applaud this ruling would be fine with foreigners not visiting

          Definitely. The USA isn't making any noteworthy money out of foreign tourism, and foreigners are (and have always been) utterly suspicious anyway: They are all commie spies, or terrorists, if not both at the same time...

          So, for most less-educated people limiting the amount of "unwanted foreign scoundrels coming into the country under fallacious pretexts" is actually a perk.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: I mean its certainly not the best solution

            It's more than you might think.

            In 2019, figures from Statista show tha the number of international tourist arrivals to the US stood at almost 80 million after being on the rise for over a decade. Thanks to this influx of visitors and a boost in US travel spending, the travel and tourism industry contributed over 1.1 trillion US dollars to the country’s GDP and supported millions of jobs in 2019.

            However, since the beginning of March, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in over US$500 billion in cumulative losses for the US travel economy, equating to a daily loss of approximately US$1.75 billion.

          2. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: I mean its certainly not the best solution

            and foreigners are (and have always been) utterly suspicious anyway: They are all commie spies, or terrorists, if not both at the same time

            Fortunately most of the places people from outside the US actually want to visit (since it is largely New York, California, and Vegas) this is not the case. Just remember if you want to go to a Disney park on your trip to book at Disneyland and not Disneyworld!

      2. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: I mean its certainly not the best solution

        Is France on your 'do not travel' list too?

        Just that.. France has stricter abortion laws than 90% of US States.

        Also, Ireland, Malta.. I could continue.

        I'm pro-abortion and even I find some of the demands in the US unsettling. Abortion until the day of birth, for instance..

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I mean its certainly not the best solution

          WTF? Are all your sources as trustworthy? Abortion is legal (and even free!) in France since 1975!

        2. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: I mean its certainly not the best solution

          People who want abortion legal until the day of birth are just as extremist as those wanting a ban in all cases from the moment of conception.

          There over 70% support in the US for abortion being legal in "most cases". The poll didn't define what most cases are, but I would imagine that 70% would all be with a cut off when a fetus born prematurely would be viable without medical intervention (which is about 6 months) and only later if the fetus won't be viable or the woman's life in danger.

          Only 13% support a complete ban on all abortions with no exceptions, yet that is what we're likely to have in many states soon. Talk about minority rule!

  12. Lorribot

    Choices

    Option 1 buy a phone that give all your personal information to the data slurper of your choice so you can play stupid games and get harangued by work via E-mail/Teams/zoom a.n.other crummy rubbish app from the 2 gazillion on the App store because that number is important most of which also track you and record everything you say.

    Option 2 buy a phone that just makes phone calls and maybe text messages. Old Nokia anyone?

    "We remain committed to protecting our users against improper government demands for data, and we will continue to oppose demands that are overly broad or otherwise legally objectionable."

    Good job Google have our backs when it comes to governments, now what about all those non government companies they sell my data to? Will I start getting adverts for abortion clinics if I walk past one, maybe some cold calling "we noticed your indecision as you walk past... can we help you with your life choices?"

    1. NATTtrash
      Pint

      "Old Nokia anyone?"

      Indeed. Mine seems to be labeled as a "pensioner phone". Good on pocket space and battery life though.

      Then again, as shown frequently before, that "old fashioned thing" most likely is tomorrows fashion. Platforms and bell bottoms any one?

      1. H in The Hague Silver badge
        Pint

        "Then again, as shown frequently before, that "old fashioned thing" most likely is tomorrows fashion."

        I've been using digital cameras for about two decades now. But the other week I got a fashionable 'new' camera: a Kodak Brownie II, probably over a century old, still works. A snip at EUR 28 with a free roll of film (120 format), from Foto Americaine in The Hague, est. 1906. Quite a few cool (not geeky) young people avail themselves of their 1 hour turnaround on developing B/W film. They mentioned they're going to open a darkroom to give courses.

        And one of the folk in the shop told me that quite a few young people are now shooting Super 8 movies again (a medium I thought had been killed by video a few decades ago), using negative film (cheaper than reversal) which they then scan and invert. Apparently the guy at the Super 8 lab (super8.nl) is flooded with work.

        So a complete time warp (bit like the Suzanne Vega concert last week - she sounded just like she did 30 years ago).

        A happy weekend to all Commentards. -->

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Indeed. Mine seems to be labeled as a "pensioner phone".

        That's funny :-) The people currently retiring or who will do so in the next few year grew in the world of computers, many of used them at work, many have smartphones. It's like when an "event" is organised at retirement homes. It's all "wartime" music, Bog Band sound etc., yet many of those people grew up with Elvis, rock and roll were mods'n'rockers, punks, etc. Yet there's a stereo-type of nice little old ladies and men who love home made jam and scones. Some of those people in the retirement homes where thugs, whores and gangsters :-)

        1. Clausewitz4.0
          Devil

          Some of those people in the retirement homes where thugs, whores and gangsters :-)

          Damn... I will never look again into the eyes of a grandpa / grandma the same way I used to..

        2. TimMaher Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Bog Band sound

          I like Glenn Miller and stuff but am now looking forward to some Bog Band.

          Is it played down in Louisiana or just in a very echoey toilet?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Bog Band sound

            The toilet :-)

            (Damn my typing skills and this shitty laptop keyboard!)

    2. CrackedNoggin

      I occasionally read about phone data being used in solving crimes - especially murder. But it is always cell phone tower data that is mentioned. That old Nokia still uses cell phone towers.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Think About What This Implies

    Google loves to track people, even people it has no relationship with. It does this to maximise its commercial gain which, by definition, maximises everyone else's commercial loss: individuals are denied the ability to control and sell their own data; Google's taken that away from them and daren't breathe a word about the profits its makes. Never mind the loss of privacy, even if willingly entered into.

    And the one thing that's made them modify their stance (only a tiny bit) is that, now, the data they accumulate can now be positively dangerous to people in their corporate home country, rather than representing a mere commercial or privacy loss.

    So, what does it say about the USA (well, some states)? They've done something sufficiently bad that its managed to get even the most acquisitive of companies to think about its position.

    And what does this say about Google? What happens to Google if a State passes a law *requiring* the company to silently collect data and pass it on to the State police, if it has indications of law breaking? It's just publicly implied that it has the technical ability to do that, by saying it's going to endeavour to delete such data. Such laws are undoubtedly going to start cropping up in some US states. Google has spent an enternity lobbying against any hint of data privacy / protection laws, especially in the USA. It's been very happy to cosy up to hard line politicians to persuade them of "its view", and the payback for that support from politicians may well be "here's a police data collection law you're going to comply with in my home state". If you deal with the devil, don't expect to get away with your life...

    There is a possibility that what's now happening in the USA will lead to "refugees" fleeing the US and seeking asylum in other countries. There is also the possibility that such refugees will be able to sue Google outside of the US. Others are already drawing comparisons between IBM and its dealings with Nazi Germany. What we're seeing is (if not already) getting close to state persecution of certain individuals, which is a legitemate reason for granting asylum and something that participating companies can be accountable for outside of the country in question.

    And, whilst we're at it, what about Apple and its famed Airtags? And its location services? And Facebook?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poison the data?

    I remember there being a browser plug in that would run in the background and generate random google queries so as to “ poison “ the data. I don’t know if it would be possible to poison location data in a similar fashion?

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Poison the data?

      That depends.

      It happens naturally, accidentally. Take a WiFi router from one remote location to another and it can confuse mobiles that are using WiFi network SSIDs for location services, at least until the phone gets a GPS lock (which tells Google or whoever that the router has been moved).

      The problem is doing it convincingly. The mobile can sense GPS, WiFi, cell base stations, the combination of all of which gives a pretty robust location. Spoof the GPS and that just looks like a spoofed GPS, because the cell network, local WiFi hasn't changed.

      So poisoning would be more easily done at the output side of location services, not the input side. That's likely an OS change.

  15. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Lawmakers v. The Scientific Realities of Human Reproduction

    The New England Journal of Medicine pointed out that now life is legally at conception, then any couple who use IVF are guilty of mass murder.

    https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe2208288

    10 year old rape victim had to travel between states to get a termination - that sounds like a logical fallacy but sadly it is a recent example of the effects of a supremely stupid religious court.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Lawmakers v. The Scientific Realities of Human Reproduction

      Lets put the blame where it belongs, the individual states and it's inhabitants making the laws banning abortions. Because states are also free to ALLOW those abortions now.

      Roe v. Wade was bad law and deserved to be struck down. Downvote me all you want for this. The draconian and medieval laws now instituted in states like Texas are also bad and also deserve to be struck down, but that needs to happen through the proper democratic process, not a very weird/bad interpretation of the 14th amendment. The blame for the situation of that 10 year old doesn't lie with the supreme court, it lies firmly with the religious zealots and ass-hats in the state of Texas who decided they needed draconian abortion laws now that they could have them.

  16. Auntie Dix
    FAIL

    What about purchase histories showing wire hangers?

    Will Google Shopping history ignore automatically -- not edit out later, since law enforcement may move quickly -- all hanger purchases?

    How about Walmart and Home Depot, which obnoxiously opt-in online customers to the tying of credit-card numbers to in-store purchases? Both display in-store purchases on line before one leaves the parking lot.

    As for location history, some citizens with newer cars will be given away by the "black boxes" to which the clueless public acquiesced decades ago. Do you even know the types and magnitude of data your carmaker collects and retains?

    Since the U.S. is a business-first, lawmaker-lobbied, apathetic-voter country that lacks strict privacy protection, its citizens must beg for after-the-fact or -hack scraps of remediation.

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