Law Enforcement Is Relying More On Google Maps Timeline Data To Catch Crooks

Google Maps is one of those apps that just about every smartphone user has on their device no matter if they prefer iOS or Android. Google has updated the Maps app with cool features that make it useful on your daily commute to avoid traffic, accidents, and annoying construction. The search giant is also working on adding cool features like augmented reality navigation to overlay directions on the real world. Now, a new report claims that Google is facing increasing requests from law enforcement to tie users with a Google Account to the location of a crime.

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The report claims that the police are casting a very wide net by sending subpoenas to Google asking for the timeline information that Google collects on users via Maps. What the police are trying to do is locate as many people as possible who were in the area when a crime happened. Google is anonymizing the data to some extent. Google calls the database of information on where users have been Sensorvault. When it gets a valid warrant for this sort of information, called a geofence warrant, Google grabs data from the Sensorvault database and provides it to law enforcement.

Google reportedly gives law enforcement a set of tokens that portray an account that police can track. If that account has the potential of being involved in the case the police can then get a subpoena that asks for more precise information on the account holder. The information could provide suspects in crimes and potentially yield witnesses that can help catch the criminals.

One case that used this data resulted in a man spending a week in jail after he was arrested for firing a weapon out the window of a white Honda Civic. The man in question did own a car fitting the description of the car used in the crime. Police uncovered in the investigation that the man's vehicle had been used in the crime, but he was not behind the wheel at the time. He was later released and his mother's ex-boyfriend, who used his car, was arrested.