Tag Archives: location data

If You’re Close to the Scene of a Crime, Police Can Demand Google Hand Over Your Data, by Aaron Kesel

Now proximity to a crime gives the police “probable cause” to obtain your data from Google. From Aaron Kesel at themindunleashed.com:

Google reverse location search warrants have privacy and civil liberties advocates concerned.

(TMU) — The Gainesville Police Department suspected an innocent man was involved in a burglary so naturally they requested that Google give them all of his location data.

Google’s legal investigations support team wrote to Zachary McCoy telling him that local police were demanding information related to his Google account. Google replied and said it would release the data unless McCoy went to court and tried to block the request, NBC reported.

The man then searched his case number on the Gainesville Police Department website where he found a one-page report on the burglary of an elderly woman’s home ten months earlier on March 29, 2009. Unfortunately for McCoy, the crime occurred less than a mile from the home that he shared with his two roommates.

Caleb Kenyon, McCoy’s lawyer, said he was subject of a “geofence warrant.” A geofence warrant is essentially a virtual dragnet over crime scenes where police request to sweep up Google location data drawn from users’ GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular connections from everyone who is near a crime scene.

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Through apps, not warrants, ‘Locate X’ allows federal law enforcement to track phones, by Charles Levison

High tech companies keep dreaming of better and better ways for the government to know everything about you. From Charles Levison at protocol.com:

Federal agencies have big contracts with Virginia-based Babel Street. Depending on where you’ve traveled, your movements may be in the company’s data.

U.S. law enforcement agencies signed millions of dollars worth of contracts with a Virginia company after it rolled out a powerful tool that uses data from popular mobile apps to track the movement of people’s cell phones, according to federal contracting records and six people familiar with the software.

The product, called Locate X and sold by Babel Street, allows investigators to draw a digital fence around an address or area, pinpoint mobile devices that were within that area, and see where else those devices have traveled, going back months, the sources told Protocol.

They said the tool tracks the location of devices anonymously, using data that popular cell phone apps collect to enable features like mapping or targeted ads, or simply to sell it on to data brokers.

Babel Street has kept Locate X a secret, not mentioning it in public-facing marketing materials and stipulating in federal contracts that even the existence of the data is “confidential information.” Locate X must be “used for internal research purposes only,” according to terms of use distributed to agencies, and law enforcement authorities are forbidden from using the technology as evidence — or mentioning it at all — in legal proceedings.

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Alarming NYT Op-Ed Reveals “Disturbing” Secretive Surveillance State Powered By Your Phone’s Location Services, by Tyler Durden

Your smart phone data is not anonymous, and you are being tracked. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Millions of Americans are walking around with phones that have, unknowingly, created one of the most disturbing and unintentional “surveillance states” to ever exist. 

A explosive new opinion piece in the NY Times aims to demonstrate that detailed smartphone tracking is far more ubiquitous than many think, despite the ongoing claims by companies that people’s data is “anonymous”.

Paul Ohm, a law professor and privacy researcher at the Georgetown University Law Center, said that describing location data as anonymous is “a completely false claim that has been debunked in multiple studies.”

He added: “Really precise, longitudinal geolocation information is absolutely impossible to anonymize. D.N.A. is probably the only thing that’s harder to anonymize than precise geolocation information.”

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