Hundreds of Google workers demand protections for abortion care | Google

More than 650 Google Workers have signed a petition to lobby the tech giant to adopt policies that can protect and support employees and consumers seeking abortion services.

The demands were threefold: the workers asked that the company expand access to reproductive health benefits already offered to full-time employees to temporary and contract workers; second, that the company stop any and all political lobbying by politicians or organizations “because these politicians were responsible for appointing the supreme court judges who overturned Roe vs. Wade and they continue to violate other human rights issues.” Lastly, they demanded that Google stop storing health-related data that could then be used to criminalize users and address misinformation and misinformation found in search results.

The petition, directed at company executives including Google CEO Sundar Pichai; Fiona Cicconi, director of human resources, and Jerry Dischler, vice president of Google ads, was distributed by the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU), a minority or members-only union made up of about 1,000 Google workers.

A Google spokesman said the company had nothing to add, but told The Guardian that Links stating how he planned to support employees in the wake of the US Supreme Court decision on abortion rights.

The AWU is one of the byproducts of an era of tech worker activism around labor and ethics issues initially sparked by the Exit from Google in 2018 during which 20,000 employees from around the world walked out of their offices in protest at the way the company handled claims of sexual harassment. And for the union, weighing concerns about agitation for national abortion rights aligned with the group’s goals of raising employee voices on ethics and workplace issues.

“It’s a health care issue,” said Alejandra Beatty, technical program manager at Google-owned Verily and administrator of the AWU. “That is a concern for the job. It is a labor right. So that’s where we’re focusing the conversation: This is necessary health care for all employees and we should all have it.”

The demands of the union are high, he admits. For example, union workers discussed asking that Google only donate to certain politicians instead of stopping all of its lobbying efforts. But the stakes are too high to go in softly, Beatty said.

Reproductive rights groups have been highlighting that abortion investigations will often be under a general offense (like homicide or child endangerment)

It’s a big challenge, but not unique to this case – this is going to keep happening, and companies need plans to respond

— 🤔Jake Laperruque🌻 (@JakeLaperruque) August 10, 2022


Reproductive rights groups have been highlighting that abortion investigations will often be conducted under a general offense (such as homicide or child endangerment)

It is a great challenge, but not unique to this case: this will continue to happen and companies need plans to respond.

— 🤔Jake Laperruque🌻 (@JakeLaperruque) August 10, 2022

“We are trying to point out that the whole system is broken and that democracy must be returned to the people, to the citizens,” he said. “Companies shouldn’t get involved in this space and until there’s a better system where there’s no such undue influence, there’s just no way to [lobby politicians] without participating in a fundamentally broken system.”

However, Google hasn’t always responded kindly to worker activism. In the years since the strike, various organizers of world workers’ action alleged that the company retaliated against them. Recently, Ariel Koren, an employee who helped draft a letter in which he opposed a $1.2 billion contract Google signed with the Israeli military, has accused the company of expelling her for her activism. The company said it investigated the incident and found no evidence of retaliation.

And workers may have even less influence on the current job market and economic climate. Tech companies have laid off hundreds of employees in recent months, making it difficult for workers to take positions that could put their jobs in jeopardy.

But Beatty said he is hopeful of a “reasonable response” and that the union has seen some signs of support from “lower-level leaders.”

While the union’s demands to limit lobbying are all-encompassing, the privacy demands are much more specific. The petition calls for “immediate user data privacy controls for all health-related activities” and that information, which could link someone to seeking abortion services, “may never be saved, turned over to law enforcement, or treated as a crime”. But that may not be a sufficient means of protecting users from being criminalized for seeking abortion services. nebraska police private facebook messages recovered between a mother and daughter that they used to press charges against the duo for allegedly performing an illegal abortion. The search warrant, Facebook maintains, did not ask for specific health data and did not mention anything about an abortion.

Experts say cases with more general safeguards like this are likely to become more common and that protecting users would require both technological solutions and a limit on the amount of information companies collect in the first place.

“If companies really care about protecting themselves and their customers from many kinds of risks, they should implement end-to-end encryption and stop collecting our data,” said Jackie Singh, director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project. “Most importantly, we also need a national data privacy law to help close our collective Pandora’s Box.”

It is a complex problem for the employees of the company. Beatty said she acknowledges law enforcement could go after non-health-related data that could serve to criminalize those seeking abortions, but she’s not sure whether deleting all the data companies like Google have on everyone is a viable option to the company. At the same time, she said she heard activists discourage people from using Google products altogether.

“Frankly, I don’t know how Google Ads will keep running [without user data]. It’s part of how the company makes money,” Beatty said. “But how is that when we have more and more users who feel like they can’t even trust our systems and then stop using them,” he continued. “We don’t want to be there either.”

Singh said he commends workers for their continued efforts, but that the most rational policy would be to enable end-to-end encryption, a mechanism that Beatty also suggested might be the best way forward. Singh also argued that asking the company to focus on protecting one type of data may actually lead to more privacy concerns.

“Unfortunately, every time we ask organizations to be more specific about detecting certain types of content, we’re basically asking them to improve their surveillance capabilities to do that,” he said, explaining that the company would have to take a deeper look at the issue. content to determine if it is related to abortion.

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