Google's geolocation data over-exploited by the police?

When surveys skate, authorities can turn to a source for location data that could lead to new leads: Google.

According to a New York Times report, the police used the information from the Sensorvault database of the search giant to help in various criminal cases across the country.

Reconcile private life with the requirements of the authorities

The database contains detailed records on the location of hundreds of millions of phones in the world, says the NYT. It is designed to collect information about users of Google products so that the company can better target its ads and measure their effectiveness.

But police have tapped into the database to progress in his investigations. Authorities can obtain "geofence" mandates to obtain location data. Such requests have peaked in the last six months, and the company has received up to 180 claims in a week.

Google has declined to answer specific questions about Sensorvault, but says it has reduced the amount of identifiable information it provides to the police. "We vigorously protect the privacy of our users while supporting the important work of law enforcement," said a spokesperson.

"We have created a new process for these specific requests to fulfill our legal obligations while reducing the scope of disclosed data and producing only information that identifies specific users when required by law. "

It is not uncommon for police to seek help from tech companies. But the use of Sensorvault's data has raised concerns about the involvement of innocent people. The Times interviewed a man arrested last year as part of a murder investigation.

Police had been alerted to this suspect with Google data. But he was released from prison after a week, when investigators identified and arrested another suspect.

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