NEW YORK - Following campaigning from a nationwide coalition from privacy and civil liberty groups, Google today released aggregate data of geofence warrant requests from law enforcement across the country from 2018-2020. These types of warrants are requests for data in order to track and identify individuals based on their location and movements during a particular time frame.
The data revealed that law enforcement agencies in New York submitted 487 requests from 2018 to 2020. Nationally, law enforcement agencies requested this information from Google a staggering 20,932 times.
In response to these disclosures, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from privacy and technology strategist, Daniel Schwarz:
“These blanket warrants, such as reverse location and reverse keyword warrants, circumvent constitutional checks on police surveillance, creating a virtual dragnet of our religious practices, political affiliations, sexual orientation, and more. Warrants are a central tool for law enforcement investigations, but they need to be narrowly targeted, specific, and based on probable cause.”
“We’re proud to be working with Senator Myrie and Assemblymember Quart to pass S296/A84 and prevent New York law enforcement from making these kinds of overly broad requests. Carrying a smartphone and accessing the internet is a part of our daily activities and it’s chilling to think that participation in digital life may lead people to be tracked or monitored by police and the government.”
“As we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we must remember the myriad ways that law enforcement weaponized fear and technology to track, arrest, surveil, and harass people of color - and Muslim communities in particular. It’s more critical than ever that we put a stop to geofence warrants, keyword warrants, and other kinds of tracking that bring people into digital dragnets.”