How a secret Google GeoFence warrant helped capture Capital Riot Mob

For multiple suspects, the FBI eventually collected an extensive set of Google data, including the recovery number and email creation of accounts, and the date of last access. Some court filings even note that FBI agents may see a field called “User Deleted Locations”, although its meaning has not been explained. It is unknown at this time what he meant by “identification” of the suspects.

If it appears that the DOJ uses geofence warrant data to create a searchable database of suspects, this would be the first known example, legal experts say.

“It sounds unusual, but it’s worth noting that this whole situation is unusual. If I were a law enforcement officer, I would argue that the three-step process is unnecessary in this case, because the moment you set foot inside the Capitol, you became a suspect or a witness.”

Others see a slippery slide start. “When law enforcement and prosecutors see what they can do in an unusual case, it usually falls apart and then becomes a normal case,” said a digital forensic lawyer who asked not to be named. “I think you don’t just see it in the case of murder, you probably start seeing it in the case of car theft. It has no restraint. ”

Google said in a statement: “We have a strict process for GeoFence warrants designed to protect the privacy of our users while supporting important law enforcement work. – Create marked data. Then, any production of additional information is a separate step as directed by the warrant or new court order. “

Google further noted that court orders are often accompanied by gag orders that prevent the recipient from negotiating them.

The DOJ did not respond to a request for comment.

Geofence warrants are usually filed before defense consultants are involved, often sealed from public scrutiny over the years, and no significant lawsuits have been filed against their constitutionality or use. Long before the use of smartphones, Wi-Fi or massive GPS, the law governing them, the Stored Communications Act, was passed in 1986 and has not been significantly updated.

Instead, the DOJ’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and Google have quietly come up with their own frameworks for processing geofence warrants, which to this day have been accepted by most courts.

Tokson said Google at least letting the DOJ get a search warrant for its data is a great first step. “But if we rely on huge technology companies to protect people’s privacy against the government, it’s a very shaky proposition,” he says. “These companies rely too much on the government for business, and not control for their deaths.”

Over the past week, 600 people have been arrested in connection with recent criminal charges using Google’s Geofence data, and at least 185 charges have been filed.

Meanwhile, secret capital infringement geofence warrants have yet to identify themselves. In April, New York Times Thought it had tracked one and filed a proposal to unsile it. The warrant was proved for an unrelated drug trafficking case. When it comes to geofence data, it seems that information flows rigidly to one side.

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