Technology

Google employees demand tech giant protect users, workers after abortion ruling

In this Monday, Nov. 18, 2019 file photo, the logo of Google is displayed on a carpet at the entrance hall of Google France in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

More than 650 Google employees signed a petition asking the tech giant to pause donations to any political action committees or individual politicians because the workers said the lawmakers “were responsible” for appointing the Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this year. 

The demand that the company stop making those donations is part of a larger request the workers are making for better protection for Google staff and users after the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which triggered abortion bans and harsh restrictions on the procedure in states across the country. 

“Protect our government from corporate influence,” the workers wrote, according to a copy of the petition shared with The Hill. “Alphabet must stop lobbying politicians and any political organizations, through NetPAC or any other means because these politicians were responsible for appointing the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade and continue to infringe on other human rights issues related to voting access and gun control.”

The workers are also asking the company to extend travel benefits for workers seeking abortion access to part-time and contracted employees, add user data privacy controls for health-related activity and address misinformation about abortion access in search results. 

“We, the undersigned, recognize that all Alphabet workers, of all genders, are impacted by the overturning of Roe v. Wade and are disappointed in Alphabet’s response and influence on this ruling,” the workers wrote.

The petition was sent to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and other top executives on Monday. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment. 

Google’s affiliated NetPAC donated roughly the same amount to both Democratic and Republican federal candidates in the last year, giving about $290,000 to both, according to data from research group OpenSecrets. 

NetPAC donated $69,500 specifically to Republican Senate candidates, including donations of up to $9,000 to senators who voted to confirm one or more of former President Trump’s Supreme Court appointees who voted to strike down Roe v. Wade, according to the OpenSecrets data. The PAC gave $27,000 to Democratic Senate candidates in the same period.  

After the Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Google sent an email to employees stating that the company’s health insurance plan will cover out-of-state medical procedures that are not available where an employee lives and works, according to a copy of the letter reported by The Verge

The petition asks Google to extend the “same travel-for-healthcare benefits” offered to full time employees to temporary, vendor and contract workers. 

The petition also asks Google to add a minimum of seven days of additional sick time because workers may need to travel to obtain health services and to increase reimbursement amounts for travel for all workers to $150 per night from $50. 

The court’s decision put a spotlight on privacy concerns and the ways that user data, including reproductive health data or searches for abortion service, could be used to target people seeking abortions in states where the procedure is now illegal. 

The workers ask Google to institute “immediate” user data privacy controls for health-related activity, calling for information such as searching for reproductive justice or abortion access to “never be saved, handed over to law enforcement, or treated as a crime.” 

The petition also asks the company to fix “misleading search results” related to abortion services by removing results for “fake abortion providers.”

An analysis published by Bloomberg News earlier this week found that searches on Google Maps for abortion clinics routinely misled users by instead displaying results for so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which do not provide abortion services and encourage patients to continue their pregnancies. 

The analysis found crisis pregnancy centers account for about a quarter of the top 10 search results on average across the country, and in 13 states accounted for five or more of the top 10 results. 

Google told Bloomberg, in response to the analysis, that it works to surface business results that are relevant and accurate and that the company works to remove businesses that violate policies about misrepresenting themselves when they become aware of them.

Tags Abortion abortion access abortion rights Alphabet Data privacy Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization Google
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