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E&C Leaders Request Briefing from Meta on Protecting Reproductive Health Care Privacy

Aug 31, 2022
Press Release
Oversight Request Follows Reports the Social Media Company Released Sensitive Messages About an Abortion to Law Enforcement

Energy and Commerce Committee Democratic leaders wrote to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg today seeking answers following recent reporting on the company releasing users’ sensitive data, including private communications related to abortion in state criminal proceedings.  

The letter was signed by Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). 

“Your users rely on Facebook and your other platforms to communicate with each other about their personal lives and therefore your company has access to highly sensitive information,” the Committee leaders wrote. “In light of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion, your company will increasingly be asked to turn over data to law enforcement for the purpose of criminalizing those who seek abortion services. Personal conversations about accessing health care services may now be considered evidence of crimes by law enforcement in certain jurisdictions.”  

In the letter, the Committee leaders also cite concerns that Meta may be asked to turn over other sensitive data based on conversations related to assisting a friend or family member with transportation to obtain an abortion or providing money for cab fare or hotel accommodations. The leaders also acknowledge the complicated and confusing legal environment in which companies like Meta and its users now find themselves. 

“Following the Supreme Court’s decision and the ongoing chaos and legal uncertainty that the decision has generated, the security and treatment of personal and private information on your platform is more crucial than ever,” the members continued. “We therefore request a briefing regarding Meta’s treatment of personal data, its policies and procedures regarding the sharing of that data with law enforcement and other outside parties, and any steps that Meta is taking to provide users with greater security of their data and greater clarity as to the circumstances under which Meta would release that data to a third party.”

The four leaders requested the briefing by September 21, 2022. 

Read the full letter HERE.