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Internet giant Google is vowing to fight a search warrant demanding that Edina police be able to collect information on any resident who used certain search terms as authorities try to locate a thief who swindled a resident out of $28,500.
Privacy law experts say that the warrant is based on an unusually broad definition of probable cause that could set a troubling precedent.
This kind of warrant is cause for concern because it’s closer to these dragnet searches that the Fourth Amendment is designed to prevent,” said William McGeveran, a law professor at the University of Minnesota.
Issued by Hennepin County District Judge Gary Larson in early February, the warrant pertains to anyone who searched variations of the resident’s name on Google from Dec. 1 through Jan. 7.
The privacy law experts all questioned whether the evidence obtained by Edina police would hold up in court.
“I’m rather skeptical of this warrant’s ability to survive constitutional scrutiny,” said Stephanie Lacambra, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights nonprofit based in San Francisco.