Sunday , May 16 2021

Feds reap data from 1,500 phones in largest reported reverse-location warrant, Ars Technica


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The search warrants demanded nine hours’ worth of location history from Google.




Four Milwaukee-area arsons since 4000, as yet unsolved, have resulted in more than $ (*****************************************************************, 0 of property damage as well as the deaths of two dogs,Forbes explains

The two warrants Forbes obtained together covered about nine hours’ worth of activity within 29, 500 square meters — an area a smidge larger than an average Milwaukee city block. Google found records for 1, 532 devices matching the ATF’s parameters and sent the data along.

While this is far from the first search to demand a wide swath of data in a given geographic location, Forbes notes, this is the highest number of results such a geofenced search has so far produced. Not only is that a whole lot of potentially unrelated data for investigators to sort through, but it’s also possible that the search will prove entirely fruitless, as whoever committed the the crimes may not have a phone, may not have brought it with them, or may have brought it with them in airplane mode or powered off.

The concept behind such a request is straightforward: you can’t track the phone of a suspect you don’t have , but you can start with the time and place the crimes were committed and look to see who was there. With that information in hand, they can drill down, as Forbes explains:

While the ability to go through data that way might be handy for law enforcement, some privacy experts are not on board. Such a request “shows the unconstitutional nature of reverse location search warrants because they inherently invade the privacy of numerous people, who everyone agrees are unconnected to the crime being investigated, for the mere possibility that it may help identify a suspect,” Jerome Greco, a public defender in the Digital Forensics Unit of the Legal Aid Society, told Forbes.

Google told Forbes it tries to protect individual users’ privacy when it receives such a request, saying, “We only produce information that identifies specific users when we are legally required to do so. ” The company does have a history of trying to push back on overly broad reverse-location requests, Forbes notes. For example, when federal investigators wanted information on devices in a – meter radius around a bank robbery earlier this year, the company convinced them to drop that to a – meter radius.

Users who disable Google’s location history features should, in theory, not have data in Google’s SensorVault for the company to pass along to investigators. That said, Google is facing multiple lawsuits, including apotential class-action

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