Hundreds of Google workers petition company to expand abortion protections for users, contractors
Alphabet Workers Union called on the company to stop collecting data on abortion seekers
(CNN) — Hundreds of workers at Google-parent Alphabet are calling on the company to take steps to expand abortion protections for users and contractors in a post-Roe world, according to a statement Thursday from a union representing the workers.
In the petition, which was signed by more than 650 workers at the company and addressed to several executives including Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, members of the Alphabet Workers Union called on the company to stop collecting data on abortion seekers and to ensure such data isn’t shared with law enforcement. The workers also demanded Google fix misleading search results that show users anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers when they are searching for clinics that perform the procedure.
The petition, which was sent to Google executives this week, comes as the tech giant has found itself under fire from lawmakers, privacy advocates and some of its own employees for its handling of sensitive abortion data and abortion clinic search results in the wake of Roe’s demise. It also comes a week after news that police obtained Facebook messages between a Nebraska mother and her teenage daughter that authorities allege show evidence of an illegal self-managed medication abortion.
“Recently I read about Facebook handing over information that was used to arrest a user seeking abortion access and it became clear that tech companies are not going far enough to protect workers and users in a post-Roe America,” Bambi Okugawa, a data center technician at Google and member of AWU, said in a statement Thursday. “If tech companies … truly want to be an ally to those looking to get an abortion, they need to refuse to share [users’] information regarding abortion searches and do their due diligence to make sure false information that could make users unsafe isn’t circulating the site.”
The petitioners also demanded the tech giant extend all abortion benefits offered to full-time employees to contractors, including relocation support for those looking to move to states with protected abortion access and health care coverage for out-of-state abortion procedures. Google announced it would offer these benefits to employees in the immediate aftermath of the Roe v Wade decision.
Google did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
The petition builds on pressure Google has faced on the issue. In May, amid reports Roe would be overturned, dozens of Democratic lawmakers wrote to Google saying that the company’s practice of collecting and storing vast troves of geolocation data from cellphones “will allow it to become a tool for far-right extremists looking to crack down on people seeking reproductive health care.” A June note to Google from congressional Democrats called on Google to prevent searches for abortion clinics from returning results and ads that direct users to facilities that oppose the procedure, saying misleading search results on where to get an abortion could put women’s health at risk.
In response to the outcry, Google announced in July that it would start deleting user location history for visits to abortion clinics and fertility clinics, among other destinations. Google also said it would add an option for Fitbit users to bulk delete their menstruation data. The Google-owned fitness tracker previously gave users the option to delete period-tracking data on a record-by-record basis.
But employees don’t think the company is doing enough. “Google can and should do better,” Alejandra Beatty, the Southwest Chapter Lead of AWU and a technical program manager at Alphabet-owned Verily, said in a statement.
To meet demands, AWU wants the company to create a dedicated abortion information task force with 50% employee representation, similar to its Covid-19 pandemic approach.
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