Over the weekend, Google was found to be giving the police in Raleigh, NC private user location data when served with a search warrant. While this has been done in the hope to catch a criminal, it also ends up giving law enforcement innocent people’s private data just for being in the area.
How do you feel about Google potentially handing over your private location history to the police?
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The way it works is that if the police can’t solve a crime, they request anonymous account information from Google. After narrowing down the number of users based on their location activity, the police can then ask for non-anonymous details such as the person’s name, date of birth, and phone number.
The most significant issue with this sort of tactic is that the police are throwing a wide net in search of a criminal and end up collecting a lot of private information from innocent citizens.
The courts have the final say for whether the police have enough probable cause to grant the warrant. In these cases, Google is simply complying with the law. However this ability to receive data from Google based on circumstantial evidence is one that must be kept in check if we want to keep our personal information private. The US Supreme Court presently has a case on the docket about this issue.
So, do you think the police should be able to issue a search warrant for any and all Google users who happen to be near a crime scene? Should Google push back on providing that sort of private information? Answer the poll below and let us know your thoughts in the comments!