Google is providing user data to the police with reverse location orders. Reverse location orders are when cops send Google specific locations where crimes were committed and time frames when they were committed. Then Google provides information on everyone who is using any Google products in those areas at those times. The people could be Android phone owner, anyone with Google Maps running on their phone or any iGoogle services.
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 how much they’re being tracked, by governments and corporations.
WRAL reported on a handful of reverse location orders 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. Most of these orders have not been uncovered.
A recent order uncovered came from the FBI in Henrico, Virginia. The FBI wanted identifying information of Google account holders in three areas, two of which had a 375-meter radius. The other had a 300-meter radius. Google Maps shows that the areas selected had a significant number of residences, shops and restaurants within the zones outlined in the warrant. Covering hundreds or thousands of people who had no connection whatsoever with the crime.
In 2017, a reverse search warrant was granted so police could receive data from every Google account of anyone who searched for a specific name. In Maine, the FBI asked Google for the data of anyone in an area covering more than 100 acres.
Police departments for the most part won’t say if they are seeking these warrants, but data from Google indicates the warrants have been increasing significantly. In the second half of 2012, Google received 1,896 search warrants from US police, while in just the first half of 2018, the company received 6,900.