Data broker SafeGraph stops offering abortion service provider info

People demonstration after the leakage of a draft bulk viewpoint composed by Justice Samuel Alito, getting ready for a bulk of the court to reverse the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights choice later on this year, in New York City, U.S., May 3, 2022. 

Yana Paskova | Reuters

The online information area broker SafeGraph stated it has actually stopped offering info on check outs to abortion centers after a report from Vice news exposed how quickly the information might be bought, raising issues that “anti-abortion vigilantes” might utilize it to target companies and their customers.

Vice reported Tuesday that it bought a week’s worth of area information for more than 600 Planned Parenthood places throughout the United States for simply over $160 from SafeGraph.

Some of those places use abortion services, the outlet stated.

And the information revealed where groups of individuals checking out those centers originated from, the period of their sees, and where they took a trip later, according to Motherboard’s post.

SafeGraph, whose financiers apparently have actually consisted of billionaire tech financier Peter Thiel and a previous head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence company, obtains and aggregates area information from apps set up on individuals’s smart phones.

The business states that the “Patterns” information of the kind bought by Vice, which demonstrates how groups of individuals engage with a provided area, is anonymized to safeguard the personal privacy of private visitors.

But Zach Edwards, a cybersecurity scientist, informed Vice: “it’s bonkers dangerous to have abortion clinics and then let someone buy the census tracks where people are coming from to visit that abortion clinic.”

“This is how you dox someone traveling across state lines for abortions — how you dox clinics providing this service,” Edwards stated.

Vice’s post was released a day after a Politico report on a dripped preliminary draft of a Supreme Court viewpoint, which shows that a bulk of justices have actually voted to overrun the half-century-old Roe v. Wade judgment that states individuals have a constitutional right to abortions.

If that winds up being the main choice of the Supreme Court this summertime, the judgment is anticipated to rapidly result in the prohibiting of abortion, or the extreme limitation of the treatment, in approximately 2 lots states.

That, in turn, is anticipated to increase the variety of individuals taking a trip from their house states to get abortions at centers in states where the treatment still would be legal, as has actually held true considering that Texas embraced a limiting brand-new abortion law.

When inquired about the Vice post by CNBC on Wednesday, a SafeGraph spokesperson emailed a link to an online post entitled, “Demystifying the SafeGraph Facts.”

In the post, the business stated it “just sells facts,” and “we only sell data about physical places (not individuals).”

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“To our knowledge, nobody has ever used SafeGraph Patterns data for malicious purposes,” the post stated. “In fact, the Patterns dataset has mostly been used by 15,000+ researchers and academics and local governments to combat COVID-19.”

“But there are always extreme hypothetical corner cases, and in some cases these are worth actively preventing,” the post kept in mind.

“In light of potential federal changes in family planning access, we’re removing Patterns data for locations classified as NAICS code 621410 (‘Family Planning Centers’) from our self-serve “store” and API to curtail any potential misuse of its data,” the post stated.

SafeGraph stated that the elimination of this information will impact numerous scholastic scientists who wish to study the subject, “like understanding the impact of legislation on family planning visits.”

“We acknowledge that our decision to take down Patterns for family planning centers could negatively impact this valuable research, but we think this is the right decision given the current climate,” the business stated.

SafeGraph stated it will still have information for sale about the places and running hours of household preparation centers.

“Family Planning centers like Planned Parenthood make their location data public because they want to serve their constituents,” SafeGraph stated.

CNBC has actually asked for remark from Planned Parenthood about the SafeGraph information.


News and digital media editor, writer, and communications specialist. Passionate about social justice, equity, and wellness. Covering the news, viewing it differently.

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