Surveillance nation

Cover story in this weeks Bloomberg is how law enforcement is turning to Google to rustle up leads in all manner of cases, from homicides to stolen bicycles.

Yesterday’s incident of the 9-year old, abducted 48 hours earlier but returned safely is another way we are constantly being surveilled even when we don’t realize it. Among the many clues (yes, criminals are, uh, criminally stupid) was the video of the perp slipping a ransom note into a mailbox, leaving his fingerprints on the note, and - broad searches over any cell phones which happened to be in the area of the abduction…

Investigators began examining cell phone tower data to determine who may have been in the park’s vicinity at the time of the girl’s disappearance and had access to park records showing visitors who had paid to enter the recreation area, the governor said.

As it happens, Google is handling over 60,000 police searches annually, something like triple that of a couple years ago. They range from “anyone who has searched for [insert search term]” following the theft of a gun, to… well, read about it. (Not to mention the use of doorbell cameras and other Google - and non-Google - video camera.)

This link should work, but it’s my first attempt at “gifting” a Bloomberg link, and they are notoriously fussy about such things. Interesting article, I think.

Google User Data Has Become a Favorite Police Shortcut

Investigators increasingly use warrants to obtain location and search data from Google, even for nonviolent cases—and even for people who had nothing to do with the crime.