Reverse Location: Google Providing User Data to Police

Reverse location orders are when cops send Google specific locations where crimes were committed and time frames when they were committed. Then Google is asked to provide information on anyone and everyone who is using a Google product in those locations at those times. Those people could be Android phone owners, anyone running Google Maps or any individual running Google services on their cell.

WRAL reported on a handful of others in Raleigh, North Carolina. Now, another order has been uncovered in Virginia and it doesn’t contain some crucial limitations to protect innocent people’s privacy. Forbes detailed one such order in August.

The most recent order on Google came from the FBI in Henrico, Virginia. They went to Google after four separate robberies of a Dollar Tree store. The warrant asks for location histories held by Google for anyone within three separate areas, including regions around the Dollar Tree store and the Wells Fargo address, during the times and days of the robberies. The FBI also wanted identifying information of Google account holders in those areas, two of which had a 375-meter radius. The other had a 300-meter radius. Google Maps shows that a significant number of residences, shops and restaurants are within the zones outlined in the warrant.

This is not just something Google is doing, Facebook and Snapchat have also been used. People don’t know what they’re signing up to and they don’t realize they’re being tracked, not just by the government but by private industry.



Image: “google map target buzz NYC version- screen shot of NYC area target” by daijiis licensed under CC BY 2.0