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Digital privacy concerns grow in a post-Roe America

Data brokers, part of a multibillion-dollar market, scrape data from common phone apps and then sell that information — sometimes to federal agencies.
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Data brokers, part of a multibillion-dollar market, scrape data from common phone apps and then sell that information — sometimes to federal agencies.

From our precise location to personal health decisions, much of our online information may not be as private as we think.

In fact, there are entire industries devoted to buying and selling our personal info. Data brokers, part of a multibillion-dollar market, scrape data from common phone apps and then sell that information — sometimes to federal agencies. For example, in 2020 the Trump administration bought location data to use for immigration and border enforcement, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Locally, a report in June revealed that Atrium Health and Novant Health have used a tool on their websites that collects health info, potentially including “details about their medical conditions, prescriptions and doctor’s appointments,” and sent them to Facebook.

And with Roe v. Wade overturned, experts are concerned people looking for abortions may be digitally surveilled.

Notably, Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill last month that would “essentially outlaw the sale of location data harvested from smartphones,” but the fate of the bill is uncertain amid a fiercely divided Senate.

We discuss the ramifications of a largely unregulated digital privacy sector with two of the country’s premier experts.

GUESTS

Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Albert Fox Cahn, founder and executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project

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Jesse Steinmetz is Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.