Google Will Stop Telling Law Enforcement Which Users Were Near a Crime

Google is changing its Maps tool so that the company no longer has access to users’ individual location histories, cutting off its ability to respond to law enforcement warrants that ask for data on everyone who was in the vicinity of a crime.

Google is changing its Location History feature on Google Maps, according to a blog post this week. The feature, which Google says is off by default, helps users remember where they’ve been. The company said Thursday that for users who have it enabled, location data will soon be saved directly on users’ devices, blocking Google from being able to see it, and, by extension, blocking law enforcement from being able to demand that information from Google.

Full story: Google Will Stop Telling Law Enforcement Which Users Were Near a Crime

6 Replies to “Google Will Stop Telling Law Enforcement Which Users Were Near a Crime”

  1. What kind of difficulties will this bring to law enforcement when they are gathering evidence against a suspect and potential criminal?

    1. This is an important question to ask, because when suspects use Google or when it is used and are connected to a group of potential suspects, they can be used to narrow down the search. With this access having been made harder if not unable to be obtained, this can eliminate a source of leads and making the job all the more difficult to gather evidence not only the potential suspect, but also finding a perpetrator in the first place.

      On a separate note however, it can be said that Google of all companies providing more privacy is obviously better than previously how it’d work with how open it was. It’s a double edged sword for sure.

      1. I wanted to say that you make some excellent points in regards to how this may be detrimental to law enforcement investigations, I believe that this change is still a good one. With how google was handling the situation initially it could result in people being wrongfully incarcerated because they were simply in the area. This can lead to more racial profiling as officer could see that someone was near a crime and if they fit the image of a criminal then they can arrest them under that pretext. Google is not only protecting people’s privacy but they are reducing the amount of potential profiling and injsutice.

      2. Of course this is a double edged sword, regarding the law however there always seems to be two sides freedom and security, finding a fine line between these two sides is always an arduous task and google has sided with freedom and the right to privacy as stated this makes identifying suspects more of a burden but also protects the privacy of individuals. It could be argued that if citizens within the area did nothing wrong why should it matter but it could also be argued as another comment has brought up the fact of misidentification and later incarceration of an individual that was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time

    2. Law enforcement officers’ jobs will undoubtedly become more challenging as a result of Google limiting their access, but I think this is for a good reason. Law enforcement having easy access to location data may potentially be dangerous and used in a manner that violates our First Amendment rights. Law enforcement could easily misuse the data for surveillance, profiling, or even discrimination as the Google user had very little protections. This will not completely take away law enforcement power as they will still be able to obtain warrants and location data from cell phone towers seen in the University of Idaho murders where they were able to track Bryan Kohberger’s location and place him in the neighborhood at the time of the murders.

  2. You bring up some amazing points. I agree that law enforcement officers’ jobs have become increasingly difficult with the new usage of technology. With law enforcement using technology they could potentially break the First Amendment rights. With Google using people’s personal information and law enforcement using this information, it could potentially bring rise to many problems of people being in the wrong place at the wrong time. With these new limitations for law enforcement, what might arise from past cases of using Google to gather past evidence from past cases? This concern can bring many questions to law enforcement. We will see if these limitations work.

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