We are in the midst of a digital revolution that is changing our lives. We now produce content, consume information, connect, work, and relax online. While most of us know that Google and other big tech companies invade our privacy, for many, it’s been a simple tradeoff: technological innovation has brought in convenience at the expense of our deeply personal data.
You probably know all too well what it feels like to get hacked or to have your data stolen. You may even be cautious about using public WiFi or using certain sites out of fear that they’re unsafe. Some people even go the extra mile and use VPNs (virtual private networks) in order to protect their information while they browse the web. These are all good security habits, but they really only scratch the surface of how much risk there is at this point in time.
Especially in post-Roe America. Following the Supreme Court’s June 24th ruling, privacy experts and advocates cite fears of fertility and period-tracking data falling into the wrong hands and warn that Google searches and location records can be evidence of a crime. “Anything Google knows about you could be acquired by police in states where abortion is now illegal,” writes Geoffrey A. Fowler for the Washington Post. “A search for ‘Plan B,’ a ping to Google Maps at an abortion clinic, or even a message you send about taking a pregnancy test could all become criminal evidence,” he states.
Given Google’s reach and dominance, the potential impact on prosecution is huge. For much of 2022, Google searches in the U.S. for “Am I pregnant?” have outranked “Do I have covid?” Searches for the emergency contraceptive drug “Plan B” have outranked both combined. What’s more, is that the police pay close attention. Google itself reported that it received nearly 46,000 subpoenas and search warrants in the first half of 2022.
Expectedly, the conversation around Roe’s reversal has centered around implications for abortion rights. What’s less obvious is that in U.S. law the right to abortion and the right to privacy are inherently linked. The 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling held that the right to privacy as guaranteed by the 14th amendment’s due process clause encompassed a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. In other words, according to the court, denying the right to an abortion would infringe on the fundamental right to privacy.
Thus, privacy experts maintain that Roe’s reversal reveals skepticism regarding the right to privacy. Should the court adopt the same reasoning in other cases — such as those related to same-sex marriage and contraceptives — privacy as defined by the 14th amendment’s due process clause may continue to be undermined. Thus, even more prosecutorial evidence will lie in the hands of data-rich tech companies. If these companies continue to commit to few product changes around data collection, the responsibility of protecting and deleting data will continue to fall on individuals.
But what if there were a better way? What if it was not up to the users of tech products to figure out how to protect and delete their data? What if abortion seekers did have to fear being tracked on the web?
At You.com, we reflected deeply on the apparent tension between privacy and convenience.
We asked ourselves: “What data would be okay to collect, when to collect it, and for which purpose?” Our answer is that the decision power should be in the hands of our users. So, we built a democratized search engine that you control — one where you no longer must sacrifice privacy for convenience.
Here’s how You.com protects your privacy while ensuring convenience:
You.com puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to privacy.
You.com never sells your data to advertisers or follows you around the internet.
You.com offers a zero-trace private mode — the most private search experience of any search engine, even more private than DuckDuckGo.
You.com does not have privacy-invading ads.
You.com employees do not have access to your personal data.
You.com does not use any pixels or attribute tracking in marketing efforts.
Technological innovation should not mean that privacy becomes a thing of the past. It’s time for tech companies to step up. For us, our values of trust, facts, and kindness are paramount. With our privacy-centric approach, we hope You.com can be a haven for anyone who simply wants more privacy on the web. You deserve access to better search, and better search means better internet for all.
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