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Cop requests for Google Location History info for criminal tracking on the rise

Google’s penchant to collect user info is all too well known, something that has led to the company developing a detailed database of perhaps all information that can potentially be collected from a user. While that drives their ad business, the law information agencies have started to value such data for their policing activities, with location history being among the most favoured info the cops have latched onto in recent times.

Google confirmed a request for Location History details have been on the rise in recent times, with one official claiming having received about 180 requests in one week alone. Of course, Google said they aren’t divulging the exact figures and is also doing all it can to uphold user’s privacy.

That includes providing the cops with more general Location History info before the agencies come up with more concrete and actionable details for Google to reveal more specific info. That apart, the agencies are also required to provide legal warrants for Google to reveal the location details in the first place.

Among the info that Google is asked to reveal include the devices that were used during a particular time and in a specific duration of time. That again is more likely to be those that run the company’s popular Android OS but also includes Apple iOS devices as well. The police claim this helps them track potential criminals while the usage pattern across different locations helps build their case against the criminals.

Google said they divulge specific info such as the username, email address and phone number associated with the particular device only after the police are able to show enough evidence of the person being a close match of the suspect being targeted.

Unfortunately, the same approach by the police has its loopholes as well given how a man in Phoenix got mixed up with another one he has lent his car to and who had gone on to commit a crime.

While truth prevailed at the end, that was not before the person spent almost an entire week behind bars.

As for the Location History feature, it’s something that user specifically have to opt to before Google can collect details of all the places the person has been to with his or her phone. Known internally as Sensor Vault, the database contained very detailed info about all the places people around the world have been and can stretch as far back as the entire past decade.