US law enforcement have reportedly been allowed to use a specific Google database called “SensorVault” to trace location and access other data of people in their investigations.
This report comes at a time when worries over data collection and breach by technology companies are rising, and it brings forward more concerns people have.
CNET reported on Saturday that the database holds detailed location files from hundreds of millions of devices from all over the world, and it is maintained to gather user-information from Google products for ad targeting.
Richard Salgado, Director of law enforcement and information security at Google have reportedly said that what they are doing is protect the privacy of their users, and at the same time support the law enforcement work.
The information gathered through the database is apparently anonymous and it discloses particular materials only after the police has inspected and figured out which devices would be of help to the investigation. This statement comes after questions about the exposure of personal user data to police force officials.
To use Google’s database, the officials would need a “geofence” warrant which should list an area and a time period that will help Google target the devices that were used in the listed window.
Although police forces nowadays is often asking for the help of tech giants, the use of “SensorVault” information has gathered negative reactions as innocent people who happen to be at the site could be wrongfully accused.
An example to justify the above concern is the fact that police has done so before. A man who was arrested in an investigation and accused of murder was actually landed by Google data on the police’s radar, as a New York Times interview with the wrongfully accused person read. The man was later released when the police arrested another suspect.
Technology companies like Facebook, Microsoft and Google have been kept in check by the population after a myriad of data leaks, hacking and non-consensual number of data scandals.
Facebook reached infamy levels after it admitted in April 2018 to the fact that an enormous amount of information of about 87 million people have been shared with Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy firm.
Google has been exposed as well after it was divulged that the company is tracking people’s location even if the location-sharing on their devices is turned off.
Information accessible on public domains predicts that 85 percent of all smartphones would use the Google-owned operating system by 2020.
Chris Mcfadden is the lead editor for Swerd Media. Chris has written for several online publications including the Huffington Post, Vanity Fair and Bleacher Report. Chris is based in Los Angeles and covers issues affecting California. When he’s not busy writing, Chris enjoys traveling and hiking.