Law enforcement may fully unleash its data collection tools on abortion

A draft opinion showing the Supreme Court may be on the verge of overturning the long-standing constitutional right to abortion could soon turn a routine activity for women across the country into a potent legal tool for law enforcement agencies: going online.

If finalized, the leaked opinion, published by Politico on Monday, is expected to trigger a wave of expanded abortion restrictions across the country, which in turn could embolden authorities to step up legal demands for women’s personal data.

One major likely target is the information collected by Internet service providers, which privacy and civil liberties advocates say has historically been used by agencies to identify individuals, verify their location and connect them to relevant groups.

For women who may still seek abortions amid an expected wave of crackdowns later this year, that could mean that logging onto a health-care clinic’s WiFi or browsing related sites from your cellphone or desktop may create an opening for agencies to seize their data and mount a case.