For many suspects, the FBI eventually collected a wide range of Google data, including recovery numbers, emails, and the dates accounts were created and last accessed. Some court filings even indicate that FBI agents can see a field called “Deleted User Locations,” although its meaning is not explained. It is not clear whether this data came from the initial geo-arrest warrant, follow-up, or traditional search warrants after suspects have been identified.
If the Department of Justice, it seems, uses geofence order data to build a searchable database of suspects, it will be the first known case, legal experts say.
Tim O’Brien, a tech industry executive who is currently working on AI policy at Microsoft says, Geofence safeguards study at the University of Washington School of Law. “If I were in charge of law enforcement, I would argue that the three-step process is unnecessary in this case, because the moment you set foot on the Capitol, you became a suspect or a witness.”
Others see the beginning of a slippery slope. “When law enforcement and prosecutors see what they can do in an unusual situation, it usually spreads and then becomes the norm,” says one digital forensic attorney who asked not to be named. “I think you will not only see this in murders, but you will probably start to see it in car thefts. There is no lead on this.”
Google provided a statement: “We have a rigorous geofence assurance process designed to protect the privacy of our users while supporting important law enforcement work. To the extent we disclose any data in response to a geofence command, we always produce anonymous data as an initial step in the process. Any production of additional information is a separate step as appropriate or a new court order.”
Google also notes that court orders are often accompanied by gag orders that prevent the recipient from discussing them.
The Ministry of Justice did not respond to requests for comment.
Geographical protection warrants are usually filed before defense attorneys step in, they are often withheld from public scrutiny for years, and there has been little litigation over their constitutionality or use. The law governing them, the Stored Communications Act, was passed in 1986, long before smartphones, Wi-Fi, or GPS were widely used, and has not been significantly updated since then.
Instead, the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Division (CCIPS) and Google have quietly come up with their own framework for handling geofence orders, which most courts have accepted so far.
Tucson says the fact that Google is at least getting the Department of Justice to get search warrants for its data is a great first step. “But if we’re relying on tech giants to protect people’s privacy against government, that’s a very fragile proposition,” he says. “These companies rely heavily on government to do business, not regulate them to death.”
More than 600 people have been arrested so far, and at least 185 Accused, regarding the Capitol breach, with the latest criminal complaint using Google geofence data filed just last week.
Meanwhile, orders to breach the capitol’s geofence have yet to be determined. in April, New York times I thought she had tracked someone down and Apply to open it. The memo turned out to be related to an unrelated drug smuggling case. When it comes to geofence data, the information seems to flow precisely in one direction.
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