So Much for Privacy! Police Hunt Crooks with Users’ Google History

NewsBusters | 4/16/2019 | Staff
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Google gathers so much data on its users that police are relying on that information to help solve crimes. And that has privacy advocates very worried.

Google’s phone location tracking system Sensorvault has been dubbed the “digital dragnet” for law enforcement and has been employed in states such as California, Florida, Minnesota and Washington. It’s a database of where users have been and hat has helped police track the location history of cell phones near where crimes have taken place. According to The New York Times it has tracked “hundreds of millions of devices worldwide and dating back nearly a decade.”

Profile - Case - Arizona - Jorge - Molina

In a recent high profile case in Arizona, Jorge Molina was imprisoned for a week by mistake, under charges of murder. The police informed him that they had phone data that tracked him to the location where a shooting happened only nine months before.

The New York Times reported that police came to this conclusion after “obtaining a search warrant that required Google to provide information on all devices it recorded near the killing, potentially capturing the whereabouts of anyone in the area.”

Display - Power - Misinterpretation - Edge - Investigation

He was exonerated in a display of both the power and easy misinterpretation of cutting edge data-driven investigation. The very real consequences of this are ongoing, as the Times reported that months after his release “Molina was having trouble getting back on his feet. After being arrested at work, a Macy’s warehouse, he lost his job. His car was impounded for investigation and then repossessed.”

Molina’s public defender Jack Litwack argued that,...
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