In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, anti-choice sheriffs and bounty hunters will try to investigate and punish abortion seekers based on their internet browsing, private messaging, and phone app location data. Legislators must act now to protect this personal data. Reproductive justice requires data privacy.

That’s why EFF urges California Governor Gavin Newsom to sign A.B. 1242, authored by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan. This bill would protect the data privacy of people seeking abortion, by limiting how California-based entities disclose abortion-related information. Some of the bill’s requirements include the following:     

  • California courts would be prohibited from authorizing wiretaps, pen registers, and other searches for the purpose of enforcing out-of-state laws against abortions that are lawful in California.
  • California businesses that provide electronic communication services, such as email and private messaging, would be prohibited from, in California, providing information in response to out-of-state legal process that arises from anti-abortion laws.
  • California businesses that provide electronic communication services or remote computing services would be prohibited from disclosing communications content and metadata in response to an out-of-state warrant that arises from anti-abortion laws.
  • California government agencies would be prohibited from providing information to any individual or out-of-state agency regarding an abortion lawfully performed in California.

This bill is a strong step forward. But more is needed. Congress and the states must enact comprehensive consumer data privacy legislation, like the federal “My Body, My Data” bill, that limits how businesses collect, retain, use, and share our data. Legislators also must enact new limits on police obtaining personal data from businesses, like banning dragnet police demands to identify all people who visited the same place or used the same keyword search term.

EFF also supports two other California bills that would protect the data privacy of vulnerable people who seek medical sanctuary in California. S.B. 107 would protect trans youths who visit to obtain gender-affirming care, and A.B. 2091 would protect people who visit to obtain abortion.

You can read here our letter urging California’s Governor to sign A.B. 1242.