MILWAUKEE INDEPENDENT: Surveillance capitalism and abortion law

UC information technology expert Nora McDonald writes opinion piece on data privacy

In an op-ed on privacy and abortion law, UC’s information technology expert Nora McDonald, explains how the overturning of Roe v Wade has the potential to hurt already marginalized populations who rely on the internet for information.

“Many marginalized people happen to be women, including low-income mothers, for whom the mere act of applying for public assistance can subject them to presumptions of criminal intent,” writes McDonald, an assistant professor of information technology in UC’s School of Information Technology.

McDonald writes that anyone in a state where abortion becomes illegal who relies on the internet for information, products and services related to reproductive health would be subject to online policing; and the policing could extend to anything relevant to pregnancy. For example, browser searches for abortion clinics or pregnancy symptoms.

“Before, women had to worry only that Target or Amazon might learn of their pregnancies. Based on what is already known about privacy incursions by law enforcement against marginalized people, it is likely that in a post-Roe world women will be more squarely in the crosshairs of digital forensics.

 The op-ed, which appears in the MILWAUKEE INDEPENDENT, originally appeared in The Conversation, also provides tips on online in a pre and potential post-Roe world.

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