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If You're Near a Crime, the FBI Can Get Your Google Info

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Note to self: turn off your phone's location data if you are in a high-crime area.

That's not a warning to would-be criminals; it applies to everybody. It's especially true if you don't want the FBI looking for you.

The FBI has asked Google for location data on anyone close to robberies in two states. Your information, too, may soon be on their radar.

Google Witness

The FBI's "reverse location" orders could catch anybody who uses Google services. So yeah, that's everybody.

Whether you have an Apple or an Android, your phone probably has tapped Google for information. That's what the FBI is talking about, only they aren't warning people about it. Forbes did, and described how they do it.

"Cops send Google specific coordinates and timezones within which crimes were committed," cybersecurity writer Thomas Brewster says. "Then Google is asked to provide information on all users within those locations at those times, most likely including data on many innocent people."

Of course, it takes more than time and location to convict someone of a crime. But that's about all it takes for the FBI to find a witness.

Dollar Tree

According to reports, the FBI recently used a reverse order to look for suspects near a Dollar Tree store in Virginia. The government has used the same strategy in North Carolina.

In Henrico, Virginia, the FBI went to Google for information within 45 hectares of the same Dollar Tree. The store there was robbed four times, and the manager was robbed while depositing money at a nearby Wells Fargo.

So you might want to turn off your location data and toss those receipts, too. Not if you are a robber, just everybody else.

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