Texas’ Right to Life Whistleblowing Website Shut Down for Breaching Privacy Clause
Right To Life, a Texas anti-abortion activist group, has recently experienced the wrath of public pushback and fine print with the loss of it’s whistleblowing website.
The official reason GoDaddy, the site’s original domain host, cited for dropping the domain involved an invasion of privacy perpetrated by those exposing the personal info of others in an attempt to bring them to the attention of those who can/will sue to uphold the six-week abortion ban.
In layman’s terms, Right To Life was encouraging people to report anyone who they felt was receiving abortion (or related services) that might place the patient or medical provider in violation of Texas’ law.
Abortion “whistleblowing” justifies invasion of privacy with a personal agenda.
The Right To Life website, dubbed prolifewhistleblower.com, encouraged visitors to provide personal info related to how the Texas’ law had been violated, including the names of the patient, location of treatment, and doctors or medical professionals involved.
The first portion of this left the window wide open for sharing private information on patients seeking services that “might” violate the law, with the intention of passing this on to authorities.
However, in a “righteous” bid to “uphold the law,” the site violated legal terms of privacy laid out by GoDaddy. The clause states (in very basic terms) that the domain holder must not use data collection to cause harm or to violate the rights of others.
It also makes it very clear that any organization requesting personal info (especially medical data) must have proper security measures in place, as well as the legal right to collect this type of data. You can read through the full agreement here.
While the website may have been dedicated to the report of anyone aiding in the performance of abortions past the 6-week mark, the way that the data was being used and stored is disconcerting at best.
The Texas’ law doesn’t expect authorities (outside of court officials) to uphold the law. Instead, they put the burden on private citizens by exploiting older right to sue laws.
Any private citizen who can bring a successful lawsuit against a person or medical provider who is in violation of the “Heartbeat Act” is eligible to receive up to $10,000 in addition to the compensation of legal fees.
This includes the possibility of lawsuits against nurses, doctors, patients, family members, those providing transportation to or from an abortion, or anyone on the periphery. And, keep in mind, the people bringing these lawsuits are not required to have any relationship to any of the people being sued.
Essentially, the heart of this law enables the trade of personal information for potential profit.
Anyone even suspected of being involved can find themselves in the middle of a lawsuit, named, and with their personal information displayed in public court documents.
Domain hosting services are distancing themselves from the movement.
As of right now, the original whistleblowing site simply redirects to the Texas’ Right To Life movement website, which shows that the group may be having a more difficult time securing a host that originally indicated.
Not only has GoDaddy distanced themselves from the Right To Life movement, Epik has as well — also citing the collection of private data as the reason for termination.
In addition to hosting difficulties, the movement has also experienced a huge pushback from internet users who have done everything from reporting the website to engineering bots to overload the site with false or confusing reports.
What precedent will this set for digital privacy?
As of right now, we’re seeing domain hosting companies upholding the right to privacy for people who might, otherwise, be victimized by Texas’ law. However, prior to GoDaddy’s review of the site, personal information had already made its way into the wrong hands.
Preventing this in the future may require a more proactive approach by domain hosts and others involved in enabling this type of privacy breach — essentially stopping it before it starts.
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