How a secret Google Geofence Warrant helped capture the Capitol mob.

For several suspects, the FBI eventually collected a vast collection of Google data, including recovery numbers and emails, and the dates on which the accounts were created and last accessed. Some jurisdictions even note that FBI agents may see a field called “User Deleted Locations”, although the meaning was not specified. It is not clear if the data came from an initial geo-fence warrant, follow-up, or traditional search warrant after identifying the suspects.

Legal experts say that, as it turns out, the Department of Justice used the GeoFence warrant data to create a database capable of finding suspects, making it the first known example.

“It’s unusual, but it’s worth considering,” said Tim O’Brien, a tech industry executive who works on AI policy at Microsoft. “If I were a law enforcement officer, I would argue that a three-step process is unnecessary in this case, because when you step inside the capital, you become 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 case, it usually spreads and then becomes a normal case,” said a digital forensic lawyer on condition of anonymity. But said “I think not only will you see him in murder, but you will see him in car theft. There is no restraint.”

Google said in a statement: “We have a strict process for GeoFence warrants that are designed to protect the privacy of our users while supporting important law enforcement work. As far as the disclosure of data is concerned, we always present the unrecognized data as the initial stage of the process.After that, any production of additional information is a separate step as per warrant or new court order ۔

Google also notes that court orders are often accompanied by gag orders that prevent the recipient from discussing them.

The DOJ did not respond to requests for comment.

Geofence warrants are usually filed before a defense attorney is involved, are often sealed by public scrutiny over the years, and there is no specific lawsuit over their constitutional status or use. The law governing them, the Stored Communications Act, was passed long before the use of smartphones, Wi-Fi, or widespread GPS in 1986, and has not been significantly updated since. ۔

Instead, the DOJ’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Google quietly came up with their own framework for geofence warrant processing, which has been accepted by most courts to date.

Tucson says the fact is that Google at least forces the DOJ to obtain a search warrant for its data. “But if we’re relying on big tech companies to protect people’s privacy against the government, that’s a very shaky proposal,” he says. “These companies rely heavily on the government for business, and do not regulate them to death.”

More than 600 people have now been arrested in connection with the Capital breach, and at least 185 have been charged, most recently with a recent criminal complaint using Google’s Geofence data.

Meanwhile, Geofence’s secret warrants for capital infringement have not yet been self-identified. In April, New York Times Thought he had traced one and moved to open it. The warrant was issued for an unrelated drug trafficking case. When it comes to geofence data, information seems to flow in strictly one direction.


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