How to protect your data now that Roe v. Wade is overturned

Yahoo Finance’s Dan Howley breaks down how to protect data privacy following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Video Transcript

BRIAN CHEUNG: The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, there is a growing concern that states in which abortion is illegal can track residents' locations, history, and data. Here to tell us about how you can protect yourself from that is Yahoo Finance's Dan Howley. Dan, give us the breakdown in terms of what you can do, what types of platforms they want to be mindful of, and how you can change some of these privacy settings.

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, that's right, Brian. There's a bunch of different options available. And this isn't unheard of where prosecutors have used women's online data in abortion-related cases to bring charges against them or try to prove out their cases at trial. So just to give you an idea-- and obviously, no state so far has said that they would go after women who have abortions in states where abortion will or is now illegal as a result of the fall of Roe v. Wade. But there are states that allow citizens to go after other citizens who aid and abet abortions.

So just to give you an idea to help you protect your data, there's a few things that you can do. The number one thing is actually sign up for a VPN. That is, essentially, a virtual private network. And what that's going to do is hide your IP address, your internet protocol address. And that basically is your online-- think of it as your home address for the internet, what your computer is saying where it lives. And so that would be able to hide your location. You could spoof it so that it makes it look like you live in-- I don't know-- like, Antarctica or something like that, rather than wherever you actually reside.

The other thing is turning off GPS for certain apps. GPS can be used to track your location, obviously. You use it in things like Google Maps or Apple Maps. But some apps can use it for other reasons. And believe it or not, the trackers that are available to look at your location can be purchased by third parties to get a sense of where you've been. And if you've been going to clinics or things along those lines, people can find that out. So turning off your GPS if you are going to be going to a clinic or if you're using certain apps is a good thing to do, especially if you're doing any research on that kind of procedure.

Then, Bluetooth is also another means of protecting yourself online. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, in certain situations, they can actually be used to track your location as well, basically triangulating where you are via Wi-Fi. So if you're going to a clinic or you're using apps, discussing that, you can also try to turn those features off as well.

The other thing is really reading and understanding the privacy policy for different websites. You would look at something like, say, Facebook or Twitter or Google. Look and understand what they do with your data when they collect it because if they're selling it to third parties, that automatically opens it up for people to use. And data brokers can basically make a pretty good profile on you personally by collecting tons of data.

And then finally, if you want to get rid of data in apps-- I know we've been talking about period tracking apps a lot, things like that-- don't just delete the app. Request that your data is deleted from that app as well. This way, when you do delete the app, the data that you gave them is also gone.

And I think it's also worth pointing out, just as an aside, if you're using a web browser-- obviously, that's what a lot of people use in the web-- you can look for one that's more privacy focused, rather than Chrome. Obviously, Google, Alphabet's parent company-- or rather, Alphabet parent, Google-- they get most of their revenue from ads. They get their ads' money based on the kind of data they're able to collect from people. So if you want to use a browser rather than Chrome that is more privacy focused, look for something like the Brave browser or Firefox.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, I mean, it kind of points to a new world, right, that we're living in, the fact that women have to do all that. But some really good advice there, Dan. Thanks so much for that.