As part of the Washington Post’s Tech Friend newsletter, reporter Shira Ovide has created a guide to how Google’s information on our activity is used by police. On Oct. 16, Colorado’s Supreme Court upheld the legality of “keyword warrants” used as part of an investigation into a home arson that killed multiple people. Keyword warrants can allow police to see your search and other data based on your use of words they’ve flagged as potentially related to a. The Electronic Frontier Foundation shared an article analyzing the decision earlier this month. In that case, the complete search histories of users who googled the address of the targeted home or similar ones were handed over to investigators.
Ovide also gives a brief explanation of the more-commonly used ‘geofencing’ warrants, where investigators request the data of people whose tech places them near a potential crime scene, and discusses both the benefits of these methods for investigations and the negative impact on privacy rights. Read more here.