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After Roe’s Overturn: The Abortion Surveillance State

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in Ms Magazine prior to the Supreme Court ruling of Friday, June 24, 2022. It appears here with permission of the author.

The New York-based privacy group Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP) released a chilling report last month detailing the digital surveillance threats facing pregnant women who seek abortion information and services, and how these threats could escalate dramatically if the Supreme Court repeals abortion rights and states criminalize abortion.

“Police, prosecutors and private anti-abortion litigants will weaponize existing American surveillance infrastructure to target pregnant people and use their health data against them in a court of law,” according to the report, titled “Pregnancy Panopticon: Abortion Surveillance After Roe.” “This isn’t speculation—it’s already happening.”

The report explains how anti-abortion governments and private entities are already using cutting-edge digital technologies to surveil women’s search history, location data, messages, online purchases and social media activities by using geofencing, keyword warrants, big data, and more.