The U.S. Government is secretly issuing warrants for Google to provide their user data on any person searching for specific search terms reports, Yahoo! News. The reports raised fears and worries that innocent users could get caught in serious crime investigations.
In accidentally unsealed court documents that Forbes found, it revealed that federal investigators began using new “keyword warrants” and used them to ask Google to give them information on any person who looked for a victim’s name or address within a specific year. The move is an attempt to track down criminals.
Keyword Warrants are ‘Controversial’
Google has been responding to thousands of warrant orders every year, but the keyword warrants are rather a new strategy by the government and are considered controversial.
SCOOP – In 2019, the government told Google to provide data on anyone who searched for the name of a kidnapping and sexual abuse victim, her phone number, address and her mother’s name.
We’ve seen “keyword warrants” before, but this is the broadest yet.https://t.co/mZzOaxL23e
— Thomas Brewster (@iblametom) October 4, 2021
Jennifer Granick, surveillance and cybersecurity counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union
Forbes quoted that “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.”
Government Says Warrant Is Limited
According to the government, the extent of the warrants is limited to prevent involving innocent people who happen to look for specific terms. However, the number of users’ data sent to the government is not publicly disclosed, and the scope of the warrant requests.
Google defended its decision to respond to the warrants saying it protects its users by doing it.
“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 said quoted by Yahoo News.