back to article Hey, online pharmacies: Quit spreading around everyone's data already

At least nine online pharmacies that sell abortion pills share information with Google and other third parties, such as search history and geolocation, that can be used to identify the websites' users, according to a ProPublica probe. And while this may be troubling to any data privacy advocates, it could prove downright …

  1. imanidiot Silver badge

    The US needs some GDPR like legislation to shake people awake

    Obviously the implications of certain policies and data sharing aren't actively on the average web developers mind. I've seen a lot of improvement this side of the pond since introduction of GDPR legislation across the EU (though there's still far too many ignorant or naive choices being made it's at least forced SOME thinking about what companies do with data and what they actually gather.)

    1. Oglethorpe

      Re: The US needs some GDPR like legislation to shake people awake

      Sure, in the fullness of time but could I humbly suggest that perhaps passing an amendment that unambiguously puts the right to abortion beyond the reach of SCOTUS and individual states might be a priority?

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: The US needs some GDPR like legislation to shake people awake

        Nice idea, but politically infeasible at this time.

        A Constitutional amendment in the US requires:

        1. Adoption of a proposal by either:

        1.1. 2/3 of both houses of Congress, or

        1.2. A national constitutional convention, which must be requested by 2/3 of the state legislatures

        2. Ratification by at least 38 states

        1.1 won't happen because very few Republican members of Congress are willing to vote in favor of reproductive rights, and some Democrats are not either.

        1.2 makes similar demands of state legislatures, and consequently would fail for the same reason.

        2 won't happen. Already 12 of the 50 states have outlawed abortion, leaving only 38 which haven't. That doesn't mean 38 states would actively decide to allow abortion; just that in 38, either reproductive rights are supported or opponents don't yet have the votes to outlaw them.

        1. Oglethorpe

          Re: The US needs some GDPR like legislation to shake people awake

          I still believe it's worth pursuing immediately (second only to starting immediately after Roe vs Wade, which was always a shaky decision) to force officials to publicly come down on whatever side they choose, rather than allowing their passive silence.

  2. David Webb

    Hey pharmacy

    I saw the article title and thought "eh? I use Hey pharmacy" and then the article wasn't about Hey at all! So was it an obscure pun? I hope so cause it worked and got my attention.

    1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

      Re: Hey pharmacy

      But did you learn anything from it?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The markup.org for El Reg

    2 Ad trackers found on this site.

    5 Third-party cookies were found. This is more than the average of three that we found on popular sites.

    This site allows Google Analytics to follow you across the internet.

    Calling kettle black?

    1. iain666

      Re: The markup.org for El Reg

      El Reg are not, so far, selling anything that's illegal (unless there's a secret bit of the site I've not found yet)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The markup.org for El Reg

        El Reg may no sell anything (yet). But Google is and, by enabling the tracking, El Reg is part of this.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: The markup.org for El Reg

          Google Analytics is an invasive service, and it's time for tech sites in particular to stop pretending otherwise. If you want analytics, do your own damn log analysis.

    2. RegGuy1 Silver badge

      Re: The markup.org for El Reg

      $ grep google /etc/hosts

      127.0.0.1 google-analytics.com

      127.0.0.1 googletagmanager.com

      127.0.0.1 www.google-analytics.com

      127.0.0.1 www.googletagmanager.com

      127.0.0.1 fonts.googleapis.com

      127.0.0.1 accounts.google.com

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, if the UK tax man can..

    .. then why not US pharmacies?

  5. tiggity Silver badge

    URIs visited

    If I visited BestAbortionPill.com (or similar named website) then tracking or no tracking, just a log of IPs / URIs visited from ISP would show a "red flag" to an anti abortion state.

    So, could be relevant to know how easily ISPs give out such data in the US - if they give it easily then web trackers are the least of someone's concerns.

    .. If someone is visiting an online pharmacy with an innocuous name (that sells a whole range of products & abortion pills are just a tiny part of the range) then trackers may be more of an issue (though again, some ISPs may log all requests users make, so if "suspect" search terms are logged the user could be in trouble via ISP data again ).

    1. Nelbert Noggins

      Re: URIs visited

      The site names themselves seem like a red flag and best avoided.

      Sound more like the dodgy names used in email spam than legitimate websites to me.

    2. hayzoos

      Re: URIs visited

      Exactly the reason I use VPN at all times. I use a hosted VPS with a Wireguard VPN server. Initially I used it to be able to conduct business while on travel in locations where internet connectivity is take what you can get, (cellphone signal maybe, free public wifi, guest wifi, hotel wifi, ?)

      I get strange looks when I tell people I now use VPN all the time on all my devices. I simply do not trust my ISP's Comcast nor AT&T to not broadcast usage data to the world+dog. I also distrust the usual data slurps as well.

    3. Spanners Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: URIs visited

      If I visited BestAbortionPill.com (or similar named website) then tracking or no tracking, just a log of IPs / URIs visited from ISP would show a "red flag" to an anti abortion state.

      Sounds like you, and more of the rest of us, should use a VPN - even when when not exercising freedoms we no longer have!

  6. Reginald O.

    Except...

    Corporate and government privacy rules and policies are rife with diametrically opposing exceptions and interpretative wordings. The fact is once they have a target's personal data they can and at times literally do whatever they want with it and there is nothing or no one to stop them. That especially includes Google. There is no logical or lawful reason to trust Google with any data whatsoever. And, that applies to a large number of corporations and governments. (Recent example: Twitter.)

  7. Nelbert Noggins

    “Google last year pledged to update its location history system so that visits to medical clinics and similarly sensitive places are automatically deleted.”

    So the big black holes highlighted by mapping the location history will stand out like a sore thumb?

    Sounds about as useful as putting a “nothing to see here” sign over the area.

    1. Dinanziame Silver badge

      The location history is not so precise and complete that you can figure out what happened between two data points.

  8. Postscript
    Mushroom

    Endgame

    Google thinks it's no big deal but American Republicans' end game is to enslave women to prevent them from crossing state lines to get healthcare, and to gain access to medical records so they can arrest, prosecute, and execute women for getting abortions. It is a big deal and they are endangering countless people for the sake of a little bit of that sweet private information sales cash.

  9. Addywar

    Studied and Visited the websites with abortion pills

    So after reading so many articles and with proper security on my laptop, I have visited a few websites like AbortionRx.com which looks catchy or spammer-like, and Daynighthealthcare.com a kind of well-mannered website. These two websites are deeply studied and also on Abortionpillrx247.com, PrivacyPillRX.com, and Online Abortion Pill Rx the cost varies on every website some are dizzy while look authentic but they are not.

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