Moscow, 16 APR — “News. Economy” Google is sharing with the police information about the location of users, reports The New York Times, citing its own sources. The authorities sent the company a formal request, after suspects are detained. But sometimes on the basis of data Google behind bars get innocent people.
Google sends us police geolocation data of its users, and law enforcement authorities use these data as the basis for the arrest of the suspects, and in some cases, arrest of innocent people.
The story moves users Google stores in the database called Sensorvault, and from there information is sent to the police. The database contains data of hundreds of millions of devices around the world, collected by Google over the past 10 years. According to several current and former employees of the Corporation, database was not developed for the needs of law enforcement.
To get the data from the company, the police need a court order. After a criminal case, the police send a request to Google. It specifies a geofence, where you have to identify suspects or witnesses of a crime. For example, when there were explosions in Austin (TX), requested information on all devices in the area and in the same time interval.
Company reports of police of the trajectory of all the users on this site in a given period of time. The user names at this stage were not disclosed, they are hidden behind a special identification numbers. After police selects from a variety of devices required and asks Google for more information.
A source at the company reports that in the last six months cases the provision of GEODATA at the request of the police increased. Getting information from Google who was near the crime scene, law enforcement officers are calculated on the basis of these data not only suspects, but witnesses.
The interviewed prosecutors in Washington state say that no one is making conclusions about the involvement of a person to commit a crime based on only Google geodatabase, and that the receipt of such evidence does not negate a full investigation.
It is unknown the number of cases in which suspects have been arrested “on a tip” Google. For the first time, law enforcement officers resorted to this practice in 2016, according to the source, and publicly about it was first announced in 2018 in North Carolina. Since data from Google requesting the law enforcement authorities of California, Florida, Minnesota and Washington. The company now gets about 180 of these requests a week.
Sources New York Times the police say that all of these requests are only sent to Google. Apple says that it does not have the technical ability to figure out where the device user at some point in time.
Sources in the company say that Sensorvault was not designed for law enforcement, and therefore the accuracy of the location far from ideal. Police also work with Google like and as locating devices they are happy. Because the location on Google is determined by multiple sources including GPS, cell towers, nearby Wi-Fi devices and Bluetooth, the result is more accurate than the cellular operators who use only their rigs.
The material of the New York Times describes several applications of the method the police when on the basis of data Google were behind bars, innocent people. So, in March 2018, the year the police investigated the murder of 29-year-old employee of the company on repair of planes, shot at home in Phoenix, Arizona.
The police made a request to Google, and that after 6 months sent geolocation data obtained from four devices at the time when the murder occurred. The location of the vehicle on video surveillance and data of Google on the phone coincided with the account of 24-year-old Jorge Molina, who was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Boy jailed for a week, but during the investigation it became clear that Molina came into the Google-account from smartphones to other people, so could be registered in Sensorvault in several places at once. Then it turned out that at the moment of murder the young man was with his girlfriend, as evidenced by the receipt from Uber. The house of Molina, where he lives with his mother and three brothers and sisters, is two miles away from the crime scene. And the car took a former boyfriend of his mother’s Marcos Gaeta, which, after he was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Molina was released, however, experienced stress was still affecting his health a few months later. In addition, the detention was carried out in the workplace Molina why he was fired. His car has been impounded for forensic purposes, but then returned. The lawyer Molina notes that law enforcement officers had good intentions when they used Google’s data, but they are too trusting an imperfect system.
According to the Google employees who are familiar with the queries, the case in Phoenix demonstrates the prospects and the risk of a new investigation techniques, the use of which has increased dramatically over the last six months. This can help to solve crimes, but can also frame innocent people.
At the moment it is unclear how often the investigation with the assistance of a tracking system from Google has led to real arrests and periods, because many cases remain open, and the queries are classified.
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