If you have a Google account, you must be also having a Google Maps timeline because almost everyone in this generation uses Google Maps to pave their path. The Google Maps Timeline keeps a precise check on the user’s location history on every device that he/she has signed in using the Google account and opted for the option while signing in. This feature is helpful to us in many cases like calculating the mileage, measuring the distance we have covered while a morning walk and lots of other stuff. But for law enforcement agencies, this unique feature is like a helping hand to them because it helps them in finding out who might have been around at the time of any criminal activity. Though, it is not much reliable than physical sources. A lot of information about how the officials use the information is proprietary and is kept confidential.
Google, like almost all the other companies in the United States, has to provide any useful information that is accompanied by a lawful subpoena. The company has a fairly good history of fighting these subpoenas, but in the end, a lot of data gets handed over when requested by the law enforcement agencies. Google’s database of where you’ve been, internally known as Sensorvault, helps the company show you location based interests and ads. A new breed of a warrant, which the NYT aptly calls geofence warrants, takes access of the Sensorvault database in a way that troubles the framers of the fourth amendment.
The various Law Enforcement agencies can ask Google for specific details and data related to the time and spot of crime. But, Google has its own way to anonymize the data and privacy of the users which they promise to secure. Google provides a set of tokens that depict a particular victim. If the agency finds out that the victim is related to the scene of the crime, they ask for more specific information. The relation of the victim to the crime scene is found using secondary physical sources like eyewitnesses, CCTV cameras and much more.
We are not against the use of private data by the Law enforcing agencies because it is surely for the greater good of society. Google, just like other companies, has to provide crime-related data and the fact is, that it can’t do anything because they too abide by the law. In our opinion, such tools and technologies must be appreciated for the welfare of the people and the eradication of crime in the world.