Thu. Jan 27th, 2022

Image of the title article may stop New York police from searching for new bill keywords and using geofencing warrants

Pictures: Chris Jackson (Getty Images)

A proposed New York law would reduce law enforcement’s ability to use controversial surveillance techniques, including warrants that could secretly target you because of your search engine history or seize your location data without your knowledge.

The Reverse location search prohibits law, Recently reintroduced to the New York State Assembly by a group of Democratic lawmakers, will prohibit police from requesting certain types of data from technology companies – particularly geofence and keyword search warrants. Such warrants, which law enforcement is increasingly using in investigations, are significant Excited Privacy advocates critics argue policing effectively Fourth Amendment skirtingTherefore such requests allow investigators to search through the personal data of the affected party without informing the publicly served warrant.

The bill was originally introduced in 2019 but failed to make any progress. However, since its reintroduction, the law has moved to the committee – a sign that it may gain some traction. TechCrunch report That, if passed, would be the country’s first state law.

For those who do not know, Geofence Warrants (also known as “reverse location warrants”) are used by the police to extract mobile location data from a specific geographic area. In other words, if the NYPD wants to know if an Android phone is actively using an Android phone at the corner of 1st Avenue and 14th Street at 7am last Saturday, they can submit a request to a judge who will then instruct Google to turn around. Return all information about the people in the area using the products The company will then be forced to draw a virtual “fence” on the corner of that street and can extract data about who is using the phone in that area at that time.

Such warrants have seen a huge increase in usage over the last few years, Google itself. A. Supplementary sheet To a Transparency report Published last year, the agency revealed that it saw an explosion of geofence requests during the 2018-2020 period – most of which came from state and local law enforcement. Indeed, the request rate From 982 requests in 2018 to over 11,000 in 2020, the sheet shows.

Keywords Search warrantThis, in turn, sounds like: Police may submit court-directed requests to Google or other search engines to find out who is searching for specific terms. In 2020, it was revealed that, in certain cases, federal authorities have silently issued such warrants that anyone seeking certain types of information. The warrants are said to have been used in numerous investigations at least between 2017 and 2020, According to Forbes.

Not only are there serious concerns about privacy and civil liberties, but there is also evidence that such warrants could ultimately involve innocent people. Such was the case With one person in Florida, Jachary McCoy, who only showed up at the request of a geofence to show that he was riding his bike in the area at the time was suspected of having stolen a string.

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