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In Raleigh, North Carolina, police are using a controversial tactic for finding suspects, WRAL reported. Four times so far, police have secured search warrants that require Google to release vast amounts of data on its users, so the police can identify suspects.
Last month, detectives took out search warrants on March 7 and March 8, each for a different crime. One for the murder of Adrian Pugh in 2015, and another for the murder of Nwabu Efobi in 2016.
For the murder investigation of Adrian Pugh, detectives are seeking data for all Google users that were present at the time of the crime inside a 17-acre area. On the other hand, detectives are seeking data for the Efobi case that’s a much smaller perimeter, focusing on units inside the Washington Terrace apartment complex.
The data that police are seeking includes anonymized numerical identifiers and time-stamped location coordinates. Detectives would parse down the list, eventually arriving at a shorter list of users they’re interested in investigating. The process would repeat itself until detectives have a final list of users. At this point, they expect Google to provide identifying personal information, including birthdays.
All this can happen without any of the users receiving notification of the warrant. The user would also not be notified if their personal information is shared with authorities.
It’s unknown whether, and how much, Google has shared with North Carolina police.
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