Raleigh cops are investigating crime by getting Google to reveal the identity of every mobile user within acres of the scene

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/18/take-down-your-fishin-pole.html


Constant surveillance is becoming a basic fact of life. Unfortunately we will likely reach a point where the political party in power will collect lists of people attending an event that they don’t approve of. The outcome will not be good.


And now at least the smart criminals will (already?) not bring their phone to a crime and the prosecutors will have violated the fourth for nothing.


Spot the bigger problem:

  1. The Police: We want a warrant for this wide-as-fuck data collection.
  2. The Judge: Sure, no problem.

Police (and other interested parties) already video demonstrations.

The article does not mention how long they keep the data or what else they may do with it or whether it is “shared” with other law enforcement (or misc government) authorities.


These warrants often prevent the technology giant for months from disclosing information about the searches not just to potential suspects, but to any users swept up in the search.

Why are these kind of warrants given secrecy like they involved national security?


Why I don’t & won’t carry a smartphone. “In Russia, data access you.”


Vintage Nokia FTW!

… not that the authorities couldn’t make the phone companies tell them which device was logged in which cell of their grid at any given time.
Even metadata from burner phones can yield a surprising amount of data, for instance enough to profile the movements of a specific group of people.




There has been at least one case where bank robbers were caught by using cell phone tower dumps.

The FBI got data dumps from towers near the banks in question, then looked for any phones that were at all of them during the times the banks were robbed.

There was one hit. So they got a warrant for that specific phone, and that led them to the robbers.

It won’t be long before criminals either get burner phones, or learn to turn their phones off or leave them behind.

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Pretty sure this is already a best practice. Has been showing up in fiction since the 90’s anyways.


[Extremely Ted Bundy voice]

Luckily I usually have my phone in airplane mode just for battery reasons.

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Very suspicious. Just what are you trying to hide?


Event attendance will be the least of it. Constant surveillance = massive data sets. “AI,” or, more accurately, machine learning, is just the application of algorithms to massive data sets to identify patterns within them. When the data set is big enough, with enough separate data points, the algorithm can then make increasingly reliable predictions. E.g.: this person is committing tax fraud. That person has an unregistered firearm and is a methamphetamine user. She’s cheating on her husband. He has a stash of porn which contains images of models of questionable age. And, eventually: these people all know each other, are in the same room three times a week, are not Christians, and have bought the following items from hardwares stores in three surrounding states…at which point the accuracy of the algorithm, and the interpretation of its predictions, becomes subject to the whims of the State.

See, also: China.


I think we should just assume they keep any and all data indefinitely. Unless they loose it through incompetence, mostly applied to anything that might show their wrongdoings.


And even if it can’t, Palantir Technologies will sell them something that claims it can.


I’m not worried about the charlatans, I’m worried about the actual wizards. :-\


Oh? What if it finds that you’re within four degrees of separation with terrorist?


If the police look hard enough they find that everyone is guilty of something; if only, wasting police time :wink:


Here are two articles on how to turn Android’s location logging off:

PSA: Your Phone Logs Everywhere You Go. Here’s How to Turn It Off (That one was posted in 2013)

Google’s Location History is Still Recording Your Every Move (That one was posted in 2014)

It seems that Google has desires to gather as much data about you that they can, and enough storage space to do so.