Officials Make Use of Google Database for Location Tracing: Report

Technology > Security

In an article by CNet, it was revealed that US law enforcement officials are using the "SensorVault" of Google to locate people that are part of their investigation / Photo by: 3rd Class Travis K. Mendoza via Wikimedia Commons


In a Saturday report by CNet, it has been revealed that US law enforcement officials have been using Google’s “SensorVault” to trace locations of people that are part of their investigation. Already the database is piled on high with collected “user-information” sourced from Google products for “ad targeting” and even has detailed records of locations of reportedly “hundreds of millions of phones from around the world.”

When asked about the matter, Google said that there is no need to worry as the database does not allow the information to not be anonymous. Additionally, they said that when they do give away the data up for investigation, it is only after the police investigation points to only specific devices.

In the report by Gadgets Now, Richard Salgado, director of law enforcement and information security at Google, said that it is Google’s commitment to privacy protection that is paramount when it comes to cooperating with law enforcement.

This means that Google is not denying the claims, but iterates that in certain police cases, it is a necessary step to take. Salgado also added that Google has already set up “specific requests designed to honor our legal obligations while narrowing the scope of data disclosed and only producing information that identifies specific users where legally required.”

Despite this, the recent barrage of data security failures and data breaches has left the public unsure about how to feel about this partnership between the government and tech giants, even though the act itself is not necessarily a new thing.

The concern that is mostly raised is the tendency that some, whose information is surely floating around in the said vault, may fall victim to false accusations and may, therefore, be wrongly implicated.

Already, this concern has led to one man being arrested for murder after Google’s data pointed to him as the murderer even though it hadn’t been him. After a week, he was eventually released and authorities jailed another suspect instead.