US Govt. directs Google to track people searching for crime related terms


US Govt. directs Google to track people searching for crime related terms

According to a new report, the U.S. government is issuing 'keyword warrants' to track the identity of anyone who searches Google and other search engines for certain search terms that may be related to a crime. 


The controversial practice is already drawing the concerns of civil liberties about sweeping government overreach. Keyword warrants are relatively new and have sparked controversy with many arguing that they violate an individual's constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.


The unprecedented move was revealed on Tuesday in 'accidentally unsealed' court documents obtained by Forbes.


“Trawling through Google's search history database enables police to identify people merely based on what they might have been thinking about, for whatever reason, at some point in the past,” said Jennifer Granick, surveillance and cybersecurity counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union.


“This never-before-possible technique threatens First Amendment interests and will inevitably sweep up innocent people, especially if the keyword terms are not unique and the time frame not precise. To make matters worse, police are currently doing this in secret, which insulates the practice from public debate and regulation,” she further said.


However, Google has defended its decision to respond to keyword warrants and claims they protect users when doing so.


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



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