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“Reverse location” search warrants identify all cellphones near a crime scene

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posted on Feb, 19 2019 @ 09:37 AM
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I used the title I found here because I found it to be less sensational and more descriptive than the one in the article.

www.mprnews.org...


The suspects in an Eden Prairie home invasion last October wore gloves, dressed in black, and covered their faces with masks. But despite their efforts to remain unseen, a trail of evidence was left behind — not at the crime scene, but with Google.

Knowing the Silicon Valley giant held a trove of consumer mobile phone location data, investigators got a Hennepin County judge to sign a "reverse location" search warrant ordering Google to identify the locations of cellphones that had been near the crime scene in Eden Prairie, and near two food markets the victims owned in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The scope of the warrant was so expansive in time and geography that it had the potential to gather data on tens of thousands of Minnesotans.

A reverse location search warrant differs from a traditional search warrant in that it doesn't identify a suspect and establish probable cause to ask for evidence of a suspect's crimes. Instead, it asks for information about everyone in an area at a certain time, working backwards to identify a suspect.

Police said privacy would be preserved through a two-step process where Google would first anonymously assign an identification number linked with each device's serial number when turning over the records. If a device's location, movement, or timing established probable cause, investigators could go back to court and get a second warrant ordering Google to reveal the name of the cellphone's owner.

These kind of searches raise serious concerns about overbreadth, and affect the privacy rights of lots of people who live or work nearby," said Wessler.

Investigators reviewed the Google data and found a mobile device that appeared to be in the rear of the victims' home. The data showed the device then moved to locations "generally between 13-20 meters," roughly 42 to 65 feet, from the victims' Wi-Fi hotspot, before disappearing from the map as the 911 call came in. A judge then ordered Google to identify the device's owner, and provide a bigger data capture of the person's movements.

But by that point, police had already developed suspects without Google's help, based on vehicle descriptions and a confidential informant, they said in court filings. Three weeks after serving the second search warrant on Google, they arrested three suspects, who now face federal charges.

Google locations and their accuracies should not be used in a definite way," read a study from a team of forensic data scientists last year. The research found that while Google's data could usually place someone in the general whereabouts of an area, some conditions resulted in Google overestimating its accuracy 93 percent of the time


This isn't entirely surprising but is fairly scary the increasing speed these warrants are being handed out. Not only is it a huge violation of privacy, but just one more step towards guilty until proven innocent. It's only a matter of time before someone innocent gets arrested because their phone said they're in the wrong place at the wrong time. Google's location data isn't accurate enough to make these decisions about people's lives and the excuses and methods police are using to acquire this information is flimsy at best. The areas covered in the requested warrants mentioned in the article gave police access to the location data of 100's of people. Each time.




posted on Feb, 19 2019 @ 09:43 AM
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Im of two minds on this. Of course one is concerned about privacy issue....BUT, i just watched the netflix series on Ted Bundy and the astonishing lack of communication ability. Oregon did not even know what was going on in Washington...and the FBI had next to zero profiling capabilities or comms between states.

So while the pervasiveness and potential of abuse is bad...if it solves crimes then it seems like a good tool.



posted on Feb, 19 2019 @ 09:54 AM
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How long until there is a phone spoofer app to make it look like your phone is somewhere else?

Or make someone else's phone look like yours?



posted on Feb, 19 2019 @ 10:03 AM
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Don't need a spoofer.

Just turn off your location/gps function.



posted on Feb, 19 2019 @ 10:04 AM
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a reply to: watchitburn

Its called the MC-12 Talon.



posted on Feb, 19 2019 @ 10:05 AM
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a reply to: dug88

Don't own a cell phone.





posted on Feb, 19 2019 @ 10:18 AM
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a reply to: DBCowboy




Don't own a cell phone.


But there's not an app for that.




posted on Feb, 19 2019 @ 10:28 AM
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I don't know how effective it is, but I have a VPN running in the background on my phone which blocks net access for apps that are asking for it, plus there's an option in Developer settings to 'allow mock locations' which I have checked but as I don't have the ability to try and track myself..who knows if it works.

a reply to: watchitburn



posted on Feb, 19 2019 @ 10:57 AM
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a reply to: dug88

If this is what local authorities are now doing, just imagine what the government can do. Last I heard years ago they can activate your cameras and see out of them and also hear what your saying by just the vibrations in your touch screen. And location? They can probably see everywhere you've been every second of the day for the last 10 years. Pretty scary. And now people are making there job easier by putting Alexis in every room in there homes.



posted on Feb, 19 2019 @ 11:41 AM
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ah, yes- another example of our digital leashes going too far.

Just wait until they start using this data they're gathering to prosecute you for smaller crimes.

They've got every detail on you for the past decade- they know more than you do about what you have done.



posted on Feb, 19 2019 @ 12:56 PM
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This is all just peachy for the police and governments. They must love having this kind of data at their disposal....for now.

Wonder how they will feel when the big monopolies don't want to provide evidence to them.



posted on Feb, 19 2019 @ 04:02 PM
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originally posted by: MisterSpock
This is all just peachy for the police and governments. They must love having this kind of data at their disposal....for now.

Wonder how they will feel when the big monopolies don't want to provide evidence to them.


Pssh..the warrants are for show.

They started all the monopolies.




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