State Attorney General Bonta urges Apple to protect reproductive health data

CUPERTINO — Backed by a coalition of 10 other attorneys general, California Attorney General Rob Bonta urged Apple to protect people’s reproductive health information from third-party apps.

In light of Roe v. Wade being overturned, Bonta expressed in a letter Monday that he’s concerned consumers’ private health data could be weaponized against them when seeking reproductive care if they come from one of the 14 states that have restricted or banned abortions.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks during a press conference in Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA – October 12: California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

Search histories, locations and logged health information could potentially be misused to target people seeking out an abortion, said the attorneys general.

“California leads the nation when it comes to digital privacy and reproductive freedom. We’re calling on tech companies like Apple, who call our state home, to lead by example as well,” said Attorney General Bonta. “With reproductive rights under attack across the nation, our fight to protect reproductive freedom has never been more crucial. We urge Apple to heed our call and protect their users from attempts to regulate their bodies and curtail their freedom by improving consumer protections for third-party party apps in the App Store.”

Apple has previously taken measures to protect user’s privacy, such as ensuring all Apply Health data is encrypted. But apps that sync with Apple Health data or independently collect their own health data do not meet the same standards, alleges Bonta.

Attorneys general are asking Apple to affirm their commitment to protecting consumer privacy with three measures – delete non-essential data for an app’s usage like search and location history of people seeking reproductive healthcare, provide notices that third parties can only acquire such data from apps with a valid court order and that apps with health data have the same privacy and security standards as Apple’s other apps.

“These proposed measures would safeguard reproductive health information from being wrongfully exploited by those who would use it to harm pregnant people or providers and are consistent with Apple’s professed promises of privacy protection on the App Store,” reads a press release from Bonta’s office.

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