But, is this violating the rights of citizens?
Technology has become an essential part of many people’s lives. Individuals use their phones today to make purchases, record information, capture memorable moments, and direct them from one location to another with the help of their GPS. Although cell phones along with the innovative features they offer have definitely made life a little easier, with the good comes the bad. While your cell phone is capable of keeping you current on what’s trending in fashion or providing you with the latest tweets posted by your favorite celeb, your phone is also tracking your location as well as the places you have gone when you use Google, Google Maps, or have a phone that is equipped to use the search engine. Surprised?
Well, let’s say you don’t use Google Maps. While you might believe that Google then has no idea where you have been in the last 24 hours, guess again. And if you said that you keep GPS disabled on your phone, you’re still not in the clear from having Google keep record of your location over time. The truth is, Google will still have a decent idea as to where you were by using other things such as cell towers and Wi-Fi networks, according to 9to5 Google.
So, how does this all affect you?
Well, the news source has reported that local police in Raleigh, NC “have issued search warrants for Google to surrender data on Google Accounts that are near crime scenes within a given window of time.” Police began back in March 2017 requesting anonymized account data of anyone within range of a crime that had been committed. This information merely consisted of account numbers and locations, but nothing personal that would allow them to identify someone’s identity.
But, once officials were able to filter through this anonymized info, any of it that matched their understanding of the crime would then lead to them requesting non-anonymized account information. This information would consist of phone numbers, dates of birth, etc., that could be used to track down a potential criminal. Although it might sound as though police are trying to be more proactive in solving crimes that would otherwise be left unsolved, there are two issues that rise to the surface when discussing this topic:
- “A variety of innocent people will be caught in such a wide net.”
- “Account holders are not necessarily notified that Google has surrendered details to the police, such as personal data and location logs.”
Now that you know Raleigh police are attempting to sift through personal data as they try and piece together a crime, you should also know that Google isn’t just handing over that information. In fact, they require that a search warrant be provided when information is requested. A Google spokesperson also issued a statement saying that “We carefully review each request and always push back when they are overly broad.”
One of the concerns that have been brought up is that innocent people may get caught in this “net” which could potentially lead to wrongful arrests.
The fact of the matter is that the courts are the ones that have the final say in “whether police have enough probable cause to grant the warrant.” So, can we expect wrongful arrests to be made or unnecessary police visits to homes of innocent individuals? Will people with no involvement in a crime be interrogated or potentially harassed? Although this is unknown, it definitely is concerning to citizens that police are attempting to take advantage of the information Google collects and use it how they please.
Now, if you have been charged with a crime and need legal representation to help fight your charges, contact a NC criminal defense lawyer in your city. If you have been harassed by police and feel your rights have been violated, we encourage you to consult with a NC police brutality attorney who can help you initiate a case. For help with finding local attorneys in your area, call USAttorneys.com today.