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Post-Dobbs America Is a Digital Privacy Nightmare

Police have already been improving their techniques for incorporating web search history, location data, and other digital information into investigations.
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Photo illustration: 731; Photo: Meredith Jenks/Trunk Archive

Abortion-rights activists are warning of the consequences of weak digital privacy protections in a post-Dobbs landscape. Even before the decision, law enforcement had been honing tactics that could now be used against people seeking an abortion in states where it’s banned—or beyond.

Academics have found that searches for abortion pills have skyrocketed since the Dobbs ruling. Such data could be tempting to law enforcement, whose requests for records from Google have been rising steadily. Search queries have already played into prosecutions, as in a 2018 Mississippi murder case against a woman who delivered a stillborn baby. Investigators said her search for the abortion medication misoprostol showed intent. (The murder charge was dropped later that year.)