To find suspects, police quietly turn to Google, seek devices near crime scenes

Tyler Dukes, WRAL, Raleigh, North Carolina, reporting on two unrelated murders:

In March 2017, months after investigations began into both shootings, separate detectives on each case, one day apart, employed an innovative strategy in criminal investigations.

On a satellite image, they drew shapes around the crime scenes, marking the coordinates on the map. Then they convinced a Wake County judge they had enough probable cause to order Google to hand over account identifiers on every single cell phone that crossed the digital cordon during certain times.

And on reactions from defense attorneys and privacy advocates:

They’re mixed on how law enforcement turns to Google’s massive cache of user data, especially without a clear target in mind. And they’re concerned about the potential to snag innocent users, many of whom might not know just how closely the company tracks their every move.

To get a sense of just how much location tracking Google does, check out this Quartz post from last November:

Many people realize that smartphones track their locations. But what if you actively turn off location services, haven’t used any apps, and haven’t even inserted a carrier SIM card?

Even if you take all of those precautions, phones running Android software gather data about your location and send it back to Google when they’re connected to the internet, a Quartz investigation has revealed.

According to this story, and others I’ve read, Google can track your location, even if you take out your SIM card. Amazing.

Read both of these stories. They are riveting and chilling.