Warren, Klobuchar, Hirono Introduce Legislation to Expand Personal Health Data Privacy Protections
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced the Upholding Protections for Health and Online Location Data (UPHOLD) Privacy Act, legislation that would expand protections for Americans’ personal health data. The legislation would prevent companies from profiting off of personally identifiable health data for advertising purposes, allow consumers greater access to and ownership over their personal health information, restrict companies’ ability to collect or use information about personal health without user consent, and ban data brokers from selling location data.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, there have been growing concerns about the use of health and location to infringe on the safety and freedom of people who visit abortion clinics. Reports have illustrated how social media companies are collecting and data brokers are selling location data that could be used to identify women seeking reproductive health care services.
“Since the reversal of Roe, data brokers and tech firms have continued to profit from the private health and location data of millions of Americans, including those seeking reproductive health care services,” said Senator Warren. “The UPHOLD Privacy Act would protect consumers’ sensitive data and their right to privacy.”
“For too long companies have profited off of Americans’ online data while consumers have been left in the dark, which is especially concerning in light of reports that some social media companies collect data related to reproductive health care,” said Senator Klobuchar. “By stopping the use of personal health information for commercial advertising and banning the sale of location data, this legislation will put new protections in place to safeguard Americans’ privacy while giving consumers greater say over how their sensitive health data is shared online.”
“With Republicans working to ban and criminalize reproductive health care nationwide, it’s critical we safeguard the reproductive data privacy of everyone in our country,” said Senator Hirono. “Everyone should be able to trust that personal data about their bodies and their health care will be protected. By restricting the sale and use of personally-identifiable health data, this bill will give patients and providers the peace of mind that their private information is secure. I’ll continue working with Senators Klobuchar, Warren, and our colleagues to defend reproductive freedom and privacy for all.”
The UPHOLD Privacy Act would:
- Ban the use of personally identifiable health data collected from any source, including data from users, medical centers, wearable fitness trackers, and web browsing histories, for commercial advertising. The restrictions would not apply to public health campaigns (e.g., college students for vaccinations).
- Place additional data minimization and disclosure restrictions on companies’ use of personal health data without an individual user’s consent.
- Prohibit the sale of precise location data to and by data brokers.
As the right to abortion and basic health care is under attack by an extremist Supreme Court, Senator Warren has worked to protect the right to an abortion and protect the data privacy that all Americans deserve:
- On February 13, 2023, Senator Warren and eleven other senators sent a letter to President Biden urging his administration to take new steps to protect reproductive freedom amid divided control of Congress and increasing efforts to restrict access to abortion.
- On November 18, 2022, Senator Warren led eight of her colleagues in a letter encouraging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to defend America's reproductive rights, and to consider steps to protect and expand access to medication abortion.
- On November 1, 2022, Senator Warren, Duckworth (D-Ill.), Hirono, and Smith (D-Minn.) released a report – based on information provided by leading health care providers – revealing the devastating consequences of state abortion bans and restrictions enacted by right-wing legislatures and the impacts of Senate Republicans’ extreme proposal to ban abortion nationwide after 15 weeks.
- On August 4, 2022, Senator Warren, Hirono, and Baldwin (D-Wisc.) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging concrete actions the Department can take to help meet President Biden’s goal of protecting and expanding access to medication abortion.
- On July 29, 2022, Senators Warren and Hirono led 23 of their colleagues in a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), calling on the VA to take immediate administrative action to offer abortions and all abortion-related services to veterans and eligible dependents
- On July 21, 2022, Senators Warren and Markey (D-Mass.) sent letters to Bark Technologies, Gaggle.net, GoGuardian, and Securly Inc., raising concerns that the software these companies use to monitor students’ online activity could be used to criminalize or punish students who are seeking information about abortion services and reproductive health care.
- On July 19, 2022, Senators Warren, Smith, and Murray (D-Wash.) led a group of their Democratic colleagues in introducing the Expanding Access to Family Planning Act to provide robust mandatory funding for the Title X Family Planning Program.
- On July 14, 2022, Senators Warren, Booker (D-N.J), Padilla (D-Calif.), and over a dozen Senate Democrats wrote to President Biden and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, urging them to immediately declare national and public health emergencies over Americans’ access to reproductive care.
- On July 11, 2022, Senators Warren and Klobuchar sent letters to Facebook and Instagram, calling on them to address their reported censorship of posts related to abortion services, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
- On July 7, 2022, Senator Warren announced two key data brokers’ commitments to permanently stop selling the location data of people seeking abortion services.
- On June 25, 2022, following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Senators Warren and Smith wrote an op-ed in the New York Times laying out the next steps in the fight to protect the right to an abortion, including calling for the declaration of a public health emergency.
- On June 23, 2022, Senators Warren and Menendez (D-N.J.) and Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) introduced the Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act, legislation that would crack down on false advertising that crisis pregnancy centers employ to dissuade patients from getting the reproductive care they need, including abortion care.
- On June 15, 2022, Senator Warren introduced the Health and Location Data Protection Act, legislation that bans data brokers from selling some of the most sensitive data available about everyday Americans: their health and location data.
- On June 7, 2022, Senators Warren and Murray led 23 of their Senate colleagues in a letter to President Biden urging him to immediately issue an executive order directing the federal government to develop a national plan to defend Americans’ fundamental reproductive rights, including their right to an abortion.
- On May 17, 2022, Senator Warren led thirteen of her Senate colleagues in letters to two data brokers demanding answers regarding their collection and sale of the cellphone-based location data of people who visit abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood.
- On May 10, 2022, Senator Warren delivered a speech on the floor of the United States Senate on the need to protect the constitutional right to an abortion, pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, and fight back against Republican extremism.
- On May 9, 2022, Senator Warren wrote an op-ed in Marie Claire about the need to enshrine the right to an abortion in federal law.
- On May 3, 2022, when the draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked, Senator Warren spoke on the steps of the Supreme Court twice to activists, protestors, and the nation about the need to protect abortion rights.
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