Google Workers Sign Petition Demanding Protection of Abortion Search Data

The Alphabet Worker's Union is also demanding increased access to health care resources for all workers who fall under Google's umbrella.

Imad Khan Senior Reporter
Imad is a senior reporter covering Google and internet culture. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with The New York Times, The Washington Post, ESPN, Tom's Guide and Wired, among others.
Expertise Google, Internet Culture
Imad Khan
2 min read
Google logo going across a smartphone screen
Sarah Tew/CNET

More than 650 Google employees have signed a petition asking CEO Sundar Pichai and other top executives to protect people's abortion-related search and location data, according to a Thursday tweet by the Alphabet Worker's Union, a union of employees and contractors for Google's parent company. 

Along with demands to protect user data, the AWU is asking that benefits be increased and extended to all workers who fall under Google's umbrella.

The AWU says it's unacceptable that access to reproductive care is limited to those in employee resource groups, which include only full-time employees. This excludes temps, vendors and contractors, which make up more than half of Google's work force, according to the AWU. The union wants additional benefits, such as an increase in reimbursements for people who seek health care, to help cover costs of travel and lost wages. 

In addition, the AWU is pushing Google to stop donating to anti-abortion politicians and political action committees.

The AWU didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The petition comes after a story broke earlier this month of Facebook providing law enforcement with Messenger data sent between a teenager and her mother. The mother is facing criminal charges for allegedly helping her daughter abort, burn and bury her fetus. The mother pleaded not guilty. Facebook has already begun testing end-to-end encryption on Messenger. 

Democratic politicians have called on tech companies to protect the data of people seeking reproductive care, and for Google Search to fix misleading results for anti-abortion fake clinics and crisis pregnancy centers. The fact that data from mapping, messaging and period-tracking applications could be used to prosecute women has created a conundrum for tech companies, advocates and politicians.

After Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that made abortion access a constitutional right, was overturned in June by the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jason Women's Health Organization, Google's chief people officer, Fiona Cicconi, sent a letter informing employees of their health care benefits, which include out-of-state medical procedures. Googlers can also relocate to a different state without justification. 

Google didn't have a comment on the petition but pointed to earlier letters and posts on the company's efforts to support employees and users in the wake of the Dobbs decision.