Police make requests for social media user data to aid prosecution after a crime has been committed.
Sometimes, the crime is abortion and social apps are turning over user chat logs and search history.
One legal expert said social platforms may cooperate with police even if not legally required to.
As abortion bans across the nation are implemented and enforced, law enforcement is turning to social media platforms to build cases to prosecute women seeking abortions or abortion-inducing medication – and online platforms like Google and Facebook are helping.
This spring, a woman named Jessica Burgess and her daughter will stand trial in Nebraska for performing an illegal abortion — with a key piece of evidence provided by Meta, the parent company of Facebook. Burgess allegedly helped her daughter find and take pills that would induce an abortion. The teenage Burgess also faces charges for allegedly illegally disposing of the fetus’ remains.
TechCrunch reported internal chat logs were provided to law enforcement officers by the social media company, which indicated the pair had discussed their plan to find the medication through the app.
Meta said in a statement regarding the Nebraska incident that it responded to “valid legal warrants from local law enforcement” prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned nationwide abortion rights and allowed for bans in some states.
And though the warrants Meta responded to in this case “did not mention abortion” — since law enforcement had requested the chat logs while investigating the teen’s disposal of the remains, which incidentally revealed the discussion of abortion pills — the subsequent charges reveal how data released by social media companies can be used to prosecute people for abortion, even when they are being investigated for other reasons.
Pharmacies sharing data
An investigation by ProPublica found online pharmacies that sell abortion medication such as mifepristone and misoprostol are sharing sensitive data, including users’ web addresses, relative location, and search data, with Google and other third-party sites — which allows the data to be recoverable through law enforcement requests.
ProPublica found similar web trackers that capture user data on the sites of at least nine online pharmacies that offer abortion pills by mail, including Abortion Ease, BestAbortionPill.com, PrivacyPillRX, PillsOnlineRX, Secure Abortion Pills, AbortionRx, Generic Abortion Pills, Abortion Privacy, and Online Abortion Pill Rx.
None of the pharmacies immediately responded to Insider’s requests for comment.
Representatives for the FBI …read more
Source:: Business Insider