Police regularly using Google data to identify suspects in criminal investigations: report

"Geofence warrants" deployed by law enforcement as part of dragnets.

Updated: September 18, 2021 - 12:18pm

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Police are reportedly increasingly using Google data to identify suspects in criminal investigations, a trend that has experts warning about possible privacy and civil liberty concerns.

"Geofence location warrants and reverse search warrants" are "increasingly becoming the tool of choice for law enforcement," according to The Guardian.

A "geofence" is "a virtual fence or perimeter around a physical location," according to Verizon, while a "reverse search warrant" involves police "seeking location tracking information from cellphone providers, internet service providers and apps."

Google "revealed for the first time in August that it received 11,554 geofence location warrants from law enforcement agencies in 2020, up from 8,396 in 2019 and 982 in 2018," The Guardian reports.