Google receives search warrant for identities of everyone who searched crime victim’s name

According to Ars Technica, police in suburban Minnesota have obtained a court order requiring Google to divulge the identities of people who searched for the name or images of the local victim of financial fraud. It’s clear that the warrant is overly broad and would potentially open the door for similar “lazy” requests by police across the country.

Search warrants and related law are governed by the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. Typically, a law enforcement official must show “probable cause” to a judge to justify the warrant. Warrants may be issued against third parties that are not the subject of criminal investigation but may have information relevant to the investigation.

The warrant in this case seeks the identity and associated information of all users who searched for the victim’s name, including home addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, email addresses, payment information (e.g., credit cards) and IP and MAC addresses. Obviously, the privacy implications of such a broad request are disturbing.

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