According to foreign media reports, Google has for the first time in history announced geofencing orders from US authorities, which provides an opportunity to understand how many times these controversial search warrants have been issued. Data released Thursday shows that Google has received thousands of geofencing orders every quarter since 2018, sometimes a quarter of the total number Google received in the United States.
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Data show that the majority of geofencing orders are obtained by local and state authorities, and that only 4% of all data geofencing orders are federal law enforcement.
According to the data, Google received 982 geofencing orders in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. But this data gives only a small idea of the number received, and does not indicate how often the agency rejects very extensive requests. A Google spokesperson declined to comment.
Albert Foxconn, executive director of the Monitoring Technology Monitoring Project (STOP), praised Google for publishing this data. “Geofencing orders are broad and aggressive. They are unconstitutional and we look forward to the day when they will be completely banned,” he said.
A geofencing order is also called a “reverse location” order because it seeks to identify relevant individuals who were nearby at the time of the crime. To this end, Google requested the police to issue an order requiring the court to submit detailed information on who is in a particular geographical area, a few hundred feet away at a given point, to help identify potential culprits. .
However, Google has long been reluctant to provide this data, as people generally believe that Google only has “Ground Attendance Certificates”. Law enforcement agencies have long known that Google stores a lot of users’ location data in a database called CensorVolt, which was first revealed in 2019 by the New York Times.
CensorValt is said to have detailed location data on hundreds of millions of devices worldwide. This data comes from users who use location data on Android devices.cell phoneOr Google services like Google Maps, GooglePoto, or Google search results. In 2018, Associated Press reported that Google could still store users’ location, even if they turned off their location history.
Critics believe the geofencing order is unconstitutional because authorities will force Google to pass on data to other people in the same geographic area. To make matters worse, these search warrants will trap innocents.
Although the court has not extensively discussed the legality of geofencing orders, some states are making laws against them. New York lawmakers last year proposed a law banning the use of geo-fencing orders in the state.
Kahn helped propose the New York Bill last year, pointing out that it would push lawmakers to ban the newly released data technology. “Let us be clear, the number of geofencing orders should be zero.”
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