- The Washington Times - Friday, July 8, 2022

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform said Friday it is investigating the sale of personal data related to pregnant women seeking abortions. 

Democratic Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, and Sara Jacobs of California wrote letters to 10 companies requesting information about what they collect on pregnant women. 

The lawmakers expressed concern about how the data could be used, including by private “bounty hunters” seeking to sue abortion providers for violating various states’ anti-abortion laws.

“The collection of sensitive data could pose serious threats to those seeking reproductive care as well as to providers of care — not only by facilitating intrusive government surveillance, but also by putting people at risk of harassment, intimidation, and even violence,” the three representatives wrote. “Geographic data collected by mobile phones may be used to locate people seeking care at clinics, and search and chat history referring to clinics or medication create digital bread crumbs revealing interest in an abortion.”

They cited concerns that crisis pregnancy centers may also use data on pregnant women to share information about alternatives to abortion. They cited the anti-abortion Choose Life Marketing’s effort to use geofenced advertising around abortion providers to share messages about alternatives with women. 

“For pregnancy centers, consider where [your] clients are spending their time and where you most want to reach them and inform them about your services,” the pro-life marketing firm’s website reads. “Be creative with your geofencing — you can set it up around high schools, universities, shopping malls, movie theaters and abortion clinics.”

The lawmakers want to know about the policies, procedures and data collected by the companies that could be used by pro-life groups to advertise alternatives. 

The companies receiving letters from the lawmakers included data brokers and health app companies, namely SafeGraph, Digital Envoy, Placer.ai, Gravy Analytics, Babel Street, Flo Health, Glow, BioWink GmbH, GP International LLC and Digitalchemy Ventures. 

The letter asked for the information by July 21. 

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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