Google Hands Feds 1,500 Phone Locations In Unprecedented ‘Geofence’ Search

Mushin

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"It’s unclear whether or not Google handed over any identifying information, but to Jerome Greco, a public defender in the Digital Forensics Unit of the Legal Aid Society, it’s a sign that geofence warrants are overly broad and endanger user privacy.

“The number of phones identified in that area shows two key points,” he tells Forbes. “One, it demonstrates a sample of how many people’s minute-by-minute movements Google is precisely tracking.

“Two, it shows the unconstitutional nature of reverse location search warrants because they inherently invade the privacy of numerous people, who everyone agrees are unconnected to the crime being investigated, for the mere possibility that it may help identify a suspect.”
 

AlexJ

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Honestly I do not mind if Google does this. I have nothing to hide. And for people who do there are many ways to restrict reporting of location data.
 

nighthawk

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Honestly I do not mind if Google does this. I have nothing to hide. And for people who do there are many ways to restrict reporting of location data.
Could you please put a sign on your place of residence notifying people whether you are home or not? While you are doing that, can you put your full name on your T-shirt so you are always identifiable? It would be good practice to put where you work and announce to everyone you pass where you are going.

I am working very hard to be disconnected from all this monitoring. Getting out of the large eco systems was the first step. I don't need to be a suspect for a crime because I was eating lunch at the same place as the individual committing the crime. It would be a scary place if people were run through a algorithm to determine whether they were guilty or not.

All this technology can be used for good, as well as maliciously. Very easy to say the bad won't happen...
 

GotWake

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Honestly I do not mind if Google does this. I have nothing to hide. And for people who do there are many ways to restrict reporting of location data.
I always find it amusing when people say they have nothing to hide. I would bet you would tell a stranger to **** off if they walked up to you and asked to go through your phone. I mean look at all your pictures, FB messages, texts, emails. It's not about hiding something. It's about privacy.
 

Riptide

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"It’s unclear whether or not Google handed over any identifying information, but to Jerome Greco, a public defender in the Digital Forensics Unit of the Legal Aid Society, it’s a sign that geofence warrants are overly broad and endanger user privacy.

“The number of phones identified in that area shows two key points,” he tells Forbes. “One, it demonstrates a sample of how many people’s minute-by-minute movements Google is precisely tracking.

“Two, it shows the unconstitutional nature of reverse location search warrants because they inherently invade the privacy of numerous people, who everyone agrees are unconnected to the crime being investigated, for the mere possibility that it may help identify a suspect.”
This is one of the issues that has me seriously considering going the iPhone route.
 

STS-134

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Honestly I do not mind if Google does this. I have nothing to hide. And for people who do there are many ways to restrict reporting of location data.
There ARE people who have something to hide, and by your selfish act of not caring about your own privacy, you make those individuals easier for law enforcement to identify. Everyone should, for example, encrypt pictures of their cats and dogs that they send to friends with the same level of encryption that is used to secure credit card numbers and top secret documents. If people take the attitude that a picture of their pet isn't worth encrypting, this ignores the fact that if these photos aren't encrypted, it makes it far easier for the NSA/FSB/3PLA/etc to actually identify what information people are trying to hide and go after those individual devices and transmissions.
 

Choose Life

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That's fked up
Laws have not caught up to technology
5-10 years that'll be illegal
 

AlexJ

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Always amusing when people try to reply with nonsense examples to justify their own paranoid behavior ;)

I would bet you would tell a stranger to **** off if they walked up to you and asked to go through your phone. I mean look at all your pictures, FB messages, texts, emails.
Of course I would, because doing so would inconvenience me and cause me to lose my time. Doesn't mean I would actually mind if someone would look at my info without inconveniencing me. For example, you are FREE to share my name, my phone number and contents of my phone if you already have those, I will not complain to anyone about that. Same goes for my location data - if the Google wants to share it with someone in a way which would not waste my time or force me to do something then they may share as much of it as they want.

Here is another piece of information to all people with irrational paranoia: your cell provider already knows your location no matter which smartphone you will use because they always know which tower you are connected to and they know location of each tower and they log that information. Here is another fact: EVERY cell provider has people working there who have access to this info and who will be willing to sell this info to anyone. You can find brokers who have contacts with those people and will resell this info by spending few minutes on Google search. This will cost you money but it is possible. All you need is someone's phone number. Is it legal for those people to sell this info? Probably not, but it is irrelevant if you can access it. And it is certainly not illegal for police to request this info.
So good luck falsely believing that buying a phone from certain manufacturer or not using certain services from Google will somehow prevent people from tracking your physical location.
 

LibbyD

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“Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”

― Edward Snowden

Yeah, I know - many see Snowden as a pariah. I don't. When it comes to privacy, he knows of what he speaks and sure knows a lot more about the gov and privacy than I do.

Anyway, here's more form that interview:


"Snowden also said that the "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" argument "doesn't make sense." He believe privacy is in fact the "fountainhead" of rights, from which other freedoms flow.
"Because privacy isn’t about something to hide. Privacy is about something to protect. That’s who you are," he said. "Privacy is baked into our language, our core concepts of government and self in every way. It’s why we call it 'private property.' Without privacy you don’t have anything for yourself."

When people tell him they don't fear surveillance because they have nothing to hide, Snowden says he tells them: "Arguing that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like arguing that you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say."



But the Joe Rogan Podcast interview is even better:


 
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AlexJ

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There ARE people who have something to hide, and by your selfish act of not caring about your own privacy, you make those individuals easier for law enforcement to identify.
Yes, yes, I should really be concerned about some traitor or some person too dumb to leave to better country and instead voluntarily risking their own life for a goal which has no relevance to me. Makes perfect logical sense for me to waste time on encrypting pictures of my cat or messages to my friend to protect people like that. /s
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"Because privacy isn’t about something to hide. Privacy is about something to protect
Protect what, your location info which is already recorded by the cell provider and which law enforcement can easily request from provider and which other people can also access (regardless of legality)? Why would you bother protecting something which cannot be protected? Especially if you cannot be actually charged for a crime you did not commit just by being in same area?

The only valid reason you would disable location tracking on your phone is if you are concerned about battery life. Which is already possible on Android phones even for Google's own services. If you are not concerned about battery - there is no rational reason to "protect" your location data especially if it will inconvenience you. For example, I like using Life360 app, it is very convenient for tracking my family members who also use it and preventing it from tracking me would greatly inconvenience me and so I do not really care if they share my location with other companies for any purpose especially since I do not have reason to hide that and since law enforcement and other people can always track my location even if I would not use it. Same goes for Google Maps and some other apps which can share my location without significant impact on battery - I let them do that because the benefits are worth doing it for me.
 
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STS-134

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Yes, yes, I should really be concerned about some traitor or some person too dumb to leave to better country and instead voluntarily risking their own life for a goal which has no relevance to me.
Not everyone has the ability or desire to leave their home country, and furthermore, the NSA is probably still actively snooping on things that are none of their damn business. If they're going to look at photos of your cat, at least make them do some damn work to get them.

Makes perfect logical sense for me to waste time on encrypting pictures of my cat or messages to my friend to protect people like that. /s
You've never heard of a social/collective responsibility before? It actually does make sense, because it's not like YOU have to spend time encrypting anything. The CPU in your computer or phone does that. Just use the proper apps, like Signal.
 

AlexJ

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Not everyone has the ability or desire to leave their home country
That does not mean I should be concerned about them. Like I said whatever happens in some other country - it is their business. And they always have a choice of using more secure messaging apps.

and furthermore, the NSA is probably still actively snooping on things that are none of their damn business. If they're going to look at photos of your cat, at least make them do some damn work to get them.


You've never heard of a social/collective responsibility before? It actually does make sense, because it's not like YOU have to spend time encrypting anything. The CPU in your computer or phone does that. Just use the proper apps, like Signal.
See, you are failing to realize something. If NSA will waste time on decrypting my stuff - they might not find the actually useful information in time. Information about things like planned terrorist attacks or stuff like data espionage by people from China or Russia. I would much rather see them catch this kind of stuff instead of wasting time on decrypting harmless stuff like contents of my photos folder which consists of pictures of cats, cars, anime girls and memes, same goes when I send this stuff using messaging apps or Discord which does not have end-to-end encryption.
 

mbsl500

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Honestly I do not mind if Google does this. I have nothing to hide. And for people who do there are many ways to restrict reporting of location data.
I don't have the words to express how dangerous that viewpoint actually is.
"That's none of your damned business" has somehow been replaced with "I'll gladly provide you with any personal information you may want because... I have nothing to hide."
 
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STS-134

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See, you are failing to realize something. If NSA will waste time on decrypting my stuff - they might not find the actually useful information in time. Information about things like planned terrorist attacks or stuff like data espionage by people from China or Russia. I would much rather see them catch this kind of stuff instead of wasting time on decrypting harmless stuff
That's the whole point. If everyone encrypted everything, they wouldn't even bother with most of it, because it would be technologically impossible for them to get all of it. But right now, they do massive amounts of data mining and store a lot of data they have no business having. They'll still be able to get data on terrorist attacks and espionage though, by specifically targeting the right people and by bypassing encryption by planting trojans on people's devices. But they'll have to actually do work to get it, kind of like they did when they were originally created and computers were weak and everything wasn't interconnected anyway. Now that data mining has tilted the playing field in their favor, it's everyone else's job to tilt it back to the balance it was at in 1952 when they agency was created.

I mean, if China's 3PLA really wants to know what I'm doing on my computer when I'm over there, they can try to attack the encryption on my VPNs or plant trojans on my machines. They're ultimately not going to find anything interesting, but that's not the point. The point is to make them do actual work if they're going to snoop on you. Don't just hand them the data on a ****ing silver platter.
 

AlexJ

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I don't have the words to express how dangerous that viewpoint actually is.
"That's none of your damned business" has somehow been replaced with "I'll gladly provide you with any personal information you may want because... I have nothing to hide."
How is this dangerous? What should I be afraid of when Google or police knows my location data which I voluntarily shared? Especially if it can be found even without my permissions (for example police obtaining this from my cell provider or obtaining the evidence that I was in that area from someone's video surveillance system or by asking other people who saw me in that area)?
 

nighthawk

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How is this dangerous? What should I be afraid of when Google or police knows my location data which I voluntarily shared? Especially if it can be found even without my permissions (for example police obtaining this from my cell provider or obtaining the evidence that I was in that area from someone's video surveillance system or by asking other people who saw me in that area)?
Talking about location gathering via cell towers: https://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/911/Apps Wrkshp 2015/911_Help_SMS_WhitePaper0515.pdf

Cell tower triangulation is not very accurate. You see there are a lot of factors at play here. Let's give a run down of the consequences by letting this "nothing to hide" argument flourish. We live in a society with already degrading freedoms and give a small amount of it away at a time isn't helping, at what point does it become dangerous? Is it when a government decides to persecute people based on religion, opinions or beliefs? Is it when a person is limited to a location based on socioeconomic status? Or is it when we start persecuting people if they do something that you don't like? You may think this is crazy, but it has happened before and if a fraction of the data we have available today was available then, what do you think the outcome would be?

I honestly can't comprehend why people are so set on a belief without consideration of other perspectives. In a perfect world, it would not matter to me whether someone knew my location, but we don't live in a perfect world. Can you not find at least one value you want to protect that could be removed given the current monitoring? Are you comfortable with live streaming the private things you do with your partner for other people to watch or listen? Are you comfortable with someone knowing where you are at every moment of the day?

It isn't just the companies we have to worry about, or the government. This data isn't often secured the best and essentially at any given time the information you provide to any entity that supposedly has to "keep it safe" is not guaranteed to keep private and at any time may be completely public. I honestly want to understand the true limit of what you are willing divulge? Have you had medical problems? Personal issues that you think isn't anyone's business?

C'mon man, there must be something in this world that is "yours".
 

GotWake

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Talking about location gathering via cell towers: https://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/911/Apps Wrkshp 2015/911_Help_SMS_WhitePaper0515.pdf

Cell tower triangulation is not very accurate. You see there are a lot of factors at play here. Let's give a run down of the consequences by letting this "nothing to hide" argument flourish. We live in a society with already degrading freedoms and give a small amount of it away at a time isn't helping, at what point does it become dangerous? Is it when a government decides to persecute people based on religion, opinions or beliefs? Is it when a person is limited to a location based on socioeconomic status? Or is it when we start persecuting people if they do something that you don't like? You may think this is crazy, but it has happened before and if a fraction of the data we have available today was available then, what do you think the outcome would be?

I honestly can't comprehend why people are so set on a belief without consideration of other perspectives. In a perfect world, it would not matter to me whether someone knew my location, but we don't live in a perfect world. Can you not find at least one value you want to protect that could be removed given the current monitoring? Are you comfortable with live streaming the private things you do with your partner for other people to watch or listen? Are you comfortable with someone knowing where you are at every moment of the day?

It isn't just the companies we have to worry about, or the government. This data isn't often secured the best and essentially at any given time the information you provide to any entity that supposedly has to "keep it safe" is not guaranteed to keep private and at any time may be completely public. I honestly want to understand the true limit of what you are willing divulge? Have you had medical problems? Personal issues that you think isn't anyone's business?

C'mon man, there must be something in this world that is "yours".
Some people wouldn’t care if every thing they do is monitored and would probably be fine with someone controlling what they do. Luckily, most of us don’t go doe that crap.
 

LibbyD

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Here's a look at that same stance - talking about why we should champion privacy even when we "have nothing to hide", by Bruce Schneier. ( Who is Schneier: https://www.schneier.com/blog/about/ )

Link: https://www.schneier.com/essays/archives/2006/05/the_eternal_value_of.html

Here is his essay:


The Eternal Value of Privacy


Bruce Schneier
Wired
May 18, 2006

The most common retort against privacy advocates -- by those in favor of
ID checks, cameras, databases, data mining and other wholesale
surveillance measures -- is this line: "If you aren't doing anything
wrong, what do you have to hide?"

Some clever answers: "If I'm not doing anything wrong, then you have no
cause to watch me." "Because the government gets to define what's wrong,
and they keep changing the definition." "Because you might do something
wrong with my information." My problem with quips like these -- as right
as they are -- is that they accept the premise that privacy is about
hiding a wrong. It's not. Privacy is an inherent human right, and a
requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.

Two proverbs say it best: Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? ("Who watches
the watchers?") and "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Cardinal Richelieu understood the value of surveillance when he famously
said, "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most
honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged." Watch
someone long enough, and you'll find something to arrest -- or just
blackmail -- with. Privacy is important because without it, surveillance
information will be abused: to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on
political enemies -- whoever they happen to be at the time.

Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we're doing
nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.

We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not
deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for
reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the
privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn
them. Privacy is a basic human need.

A future in which privacy would face constant assault was so alien to
the framers of the Constitution that it never occurred to them to call
out privacy as an explicit right. Privacy was inherent to the nobility
of their being and their cause. Of course being watched in your own home
was unreasonable. Watching at all was an act so unseemly as to be
inconceivable among gentlemen in their day. You watched convicted
criminals, not free citizens. You ruled your own home. It's intrinsic to
the concept of liberty.

For if we are observed in all matters, we are constantly under threat of
correction, judgment, criticism, even plagiarism of our own uniqueness.
We become children, fettered under watchful eyes, constantly fearful
that -- either now or in the uncertain future -- patterns we leave
behind will be brought back to implicate us, by whatever authority has
now become focused upon our once-private and innocent acts. We lose our
individuality, because everything we do is observable and recordable.

How many of us have paused during conversation in the past
four-and-a-half years, suddenly aware that we might be eavesdropped on?
Probably it was a phone conversation, although maybe it was an e-mail or
instant-message exchange or a conversation in a public place. Maybe the
topic was terrorism, or politics, or Islam. We stop suddenly,
momentarily afraid that our words might be taken out of context, then we
laugh at our paranoia and go on. But our demeanor has changed, and our
words are subtly altered.

This is the loss of freedom we face when our privacy is taken from us.
This is life in former East Germany, or life in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
And it's our future as we allow an ever-intrusive eye into our personal,
private lives.

Too many wrongly characterize the debate as "security versus privacy."
The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises
under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic
authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security
without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance
is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we should
champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.
 

Jaguar

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This is one of the issues that has me seriously considering going the iPhone route.
If you seriously think that Apple doesn't have just as much if not more information on you if you've accepted the iLife like many have, you've bumped your head.

At this point I've been using gmail since beta. I use google heavily. I've been on Chrome long enough they know pretty much everything about the browsing habits I am willing to let them know about. Google knows everything about me, so I've basically given up hiding anything on 'production' devices. For everything else, there's Tails/TOR.
 

GotWake

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If you seriously think that Apple doesn't have just as much if not more information on you if you've accepted the iLife like many have, you've bumped your head.

At this point I've been using gmail since beta. I use google heavily. I've been on Chrome long enough they know pretty much everything about the browsing habits I am willing to let them know about. Google knows everything about me, so I've basically given up hiding anything on 'production' devices. For everything else, there's Tails/TOR.
The thing is Google makes money off of information. That’s not Apple’s business model. You can say many negative things about Apple. But, I think privacy is one thing they want to keep for their users. Government agencies aren’t big fans of Apple because they don’t help them very much.

 

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