Police Are using The Google(NASDAQ:GOOG) Maps Timeline into collect location information 4 cases #Google_MapsApril 15, 2019
If you’re one of the millions of people with a Google account, you have a Google Maps Timeline.
It might be blank — it’s tied to the Location History setting that caused more confusion than needed because of its name, and it checks in periodically on every mobile device tied to your account once you’ve agreed and opted in.
Google, like every company in the U.S., has to provide any information that is accompanied by a lawful subpoena.
The company has a fairly good history of fighting these subpoenas, but in the end, a lot of data gets handed over when requested.
A new breed of warrant, which the NYT aptly calls geofence warrants , taps into the Sensovault database in a way that would make the framers of the fourth amendment shiver.
Law enforcement can take the location and time of a crime and have Google tell them who was in the area.
Google has a novel way to attempt to anonymize the data — the company provides a set of tokens that portray an account that police can track and then ask for more precise and identifying data for the ones that fit the scope of an investigation based on other evidence, such as video or eye-witnesses.
The case profiled by the Times shows how this can backfire — a man who lent his car to a person who committed a crime and was unlucky enough to be in the vicinity when it was committed was arrested and spent a week in jail as a suspect in a murder case.
We’re not against law enforcement using every tool at their disposal to try and catch a criminal.
We’re also not against anyone who wants to use a service that keeps a timeline of all the places they have been for whatever reason.