Multicultural News

Could Indiana soon use cellphone data to criminalize abortion?

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It’s been a week since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade that once guaranteed a woman’s right to abortion.

The past seven days have led to growing concerns on social media about what could happen next.

Many women are concerned that information from period-tracking apps could be used against them by authorities. The apps help track menstrual cycles, ovulation and pregnancy.

But, experts say, proposed legislation before the Republican supermajority in the Indiana General Assembly could give law enforcement agencies the ability to access cellphone data to build criminal cases. With expanded efforts to criminalize abortions, people may want to rethink how they use cellphones. The legislature is scheduled to address abortion and inflation matters at a special session later this month.

Ryan Swadley, chief innovation officer for Indiana-based digital privacy company DidgeBridge, offered questions for cellphone users to consider. “What other people are getting the data besides the app manufacturer? Are they sharing it with third parties?”

“So if it goes in the cloud, say, for the manufacturer, yes, it is much easier for law-enforcement to your point, and for legislation to access it,” Swadley said.

The chief innovation officer says users of free apps become the product. “If you’re uncomfortable with that in any way, the best probably policy is to not use the app.”

Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears says he will not prosecute abortion providers or patients. The Democrat said that he won’t “because in order to move forward under the proposed legislation, people are certainly giving up quite a bit of their privacy rights in order for law enforcement and a prosecutor’s office to pursue these cases.”

Mears says Indiana’s proposed legislation could allow access to information in period-tracking apps, medical records, and mental health records. “It’s concerning that we’re going to, or that the Indiana legislature wants to encourage law-enforcement to really infringe on people’s rights to privacy.”

Statement

“Laws that criminalize abortion could be used to surveil, penalize, and control Hoosiers, but disproportionately, Black and Brown Hoosiers. Corporations collect our information to sell to the highest bidder while an expanding surveillance apparatus and outdated privacy laws allow the government to monitor us like never before. Shady data brokers have already tracked people to and from Planned Parenthood clinics, and sold their information to anyone with a credit card. It has been obvious for years that location data leached from phone apps is ripe for abuse. With Roe v. Wade overturned, this practice puts real people’s lives at risk.”

Jane Henegar, executive director, ACLU of Indiana