Why Apple May Have To Double Down On Its Privacy Policies

Following SCOTUS' decision to dissolve Roe vs. Wade, Apple may choose to double down on its privacy policies.

By Joseph Farago | Published

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After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, new questions popped up about surveillance, privacy, and how the internet could convict people needing abortions. While companies like Meta have been indicted for their role in releasing users’ data, other companies like Apple have made privacy an intrinsic part of their business. Now more than ever, people are more protective of their private lives and are skeptical of companies monetizing their online behavior.

Since Friday, online posts and infographics have been circulating widely about how people can receive abortion pills outside of banned states. Though these posts usually reach a vast audience, sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have harshly regulated them. The increased surveillance and regulation around abortion care has shined a spotlight on tech companies’ ethics. Many people are now calling on companies like Apple to bolster their terms of service and privacy policies, ensuring that users’ data won’t be used to incriminate them.

In states like Texas and Oklahoma that had trigger laws waiting to go into effect after Roe v. Wade’s dissolution, private data could lead to indictments and arrests. Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Virginia, stated how period-tracking apps on Apple or Android phones could be used as evidence against Texas or Oklahoma residents. These states’ laws persecute the people helping others look for abortions, presumably leading to others being persecuted through online data. Period tracking apps could be used as evidence for “your own criminality, or your doctor’s criminality, Citron added. Due to this concerning new factor, many people are pressuring Apple and other tech companies to revamp their security policies.

Unfortunately for those seeking abortions, tech companies like Apple aren’t likely to change their policies to protect people. Giant tech corporations make fortunes from selling user data to third-party businesses. This result of capitalism provides new revenue for large conglomerates but does nothing for individuals left vulnerable by data leaks. For those needing to find abortions outside their state, private information that’s suddenly sold could lead to harsh repercussions for those individuals.

Though tech companies may not be trustworthy in the private data department, Apple has made efforts to ensure its users can feel protected while operating their devices. The company still sells user data to third parties, but the process is more thorough. Any retrieval of Apple customer data needs approval from four different people, including a top executive. It’s known that Apple has extensively debated using customer data to improve particular tech, which usually lasts for months. Privacy complaints and revamps tend to be discussed for years by employees and executives, ensuring that Apple customers will receive optimal data protection.

One of Apple’s developments that doesn’t infiltrate users’ personal information is Siri. Many have regarded Siri as a less intuitive version of Amazon’s Alexa. This is because specific privacy measures installed by Apple stop Siri from mining large amounts of personal data from its users. Other smart home services and AI accumulate users’ searches and profiles to make the technology work seamlessly. But the intuitive nature of Alexa comes with a caveat: collecting a massive sum of private data.