Federal authorities secretly recruit Google to monitor Americans’ web searches

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The US government is secretly recruiting Google, which maintains access to entire swathes of Americans’ data and personal information, to monitor their web searches, according to a new report from Forbes suggests.

For years, the federal government has quietly required search engine company Big Tech to pass user data on anyone who searches online using key terms. In 2017, a Minnesota judge approved a warrant directing Google to expose the user data of anyone to Edina who searched for the name of a certain victim of fraud. In a similar request in 2020, investigators asked the Silicon Valley giant to reveal information on “anyone who searched for the address of an arson victim who witnessed the government racketeering affair against singer R Kelly ”.

In the most recently released warrant, which was accidentally unsealed by the US Department of Justice last month and then quickly resealed, the government reportedly demanded to see the personal account information and IP addresses of anyone looking up the name of ” a possible victim of kidnapping and sexual assault. , “Two spellings of her mother’s name and her address for 16 days in the year”. It’s unclear how many users, including innocent Americans, were included in the data Google disclosed to federal investigators.

Google defended its compliance in a statement, but simply claimed that users’ private data is only protected by the company if law enforcement does not request it.

“As with all law enforcement requests, we have a rigorous process designed to protect the privacy of our users while supporting the important work of law enforcement,” a Google representative told Forbes.

Google was also a key player in the government’s plot to locate those present on the Capitol grounds on January 6. According to Wired, the federal government has supported 45 criminal cases that use Google geolocation data “to place suspects inside the United States Capitol on January 6”. Wired not only notes that Google’s involvement in the FBI’s reliance on geolocation is “on a scale never seen publicly before,” but that there were “at least six [warrants] where the identity of the suspect appears to have been unknown to the FBI prior to the geographic fence warrant.

“They also reveal that within days or weeks, the FBI gained access to personal information about many of their owners, including at least the account name, email address and phone number. None of the legal experts WIRED spoke to had heard of another case where personal data from devices in a geofence warrant had been exposed on this scale, ”Wired reported.

Google also complied when the FBI wanted other data related to January 6, “including recovery numbers and emails, and the dates on which the [Google] the accounts were created and viewed for the last time.

Jordan Davidson is a writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minor in journalism.


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