Can Google Really Help Solve Criminal Cases?

Posted May 31st, 2019 by .

Categories: Criminal Defense.

It’s a brand name with so much credibility that it’s a familiar verb. Need to research something? Just Google the internet for the answer. That said, it should come as no surprise. Google has the potential to help the police solve criminal cases.solve criminal cases

On first impression, it might seem to make perfect sense. In fact, you may already envision detectives glued to computers to conduct investigations. However, it’s more than discovering information about persons, places, or things.

Last month, the New York Times broke the story of Google’s Sensorvault.  The product provides law enforcement authorities access to location data history for criminal investigations. And, it’s not as if the police request the records for particular suspects.

Instead, the object of the research focuses on all cellphones in a specified geographic area. Google won’t turn over the data without a warrant directing them to do so. Law enforcement authorities quietly began using the technology back in 2016.

How can such a broad-based request possibly help solve a case? According to news reports, Raleigh, North Carolina police used access to Google’s location data in at least four separate criminal investigations.

Two of the inquiries resulted in the apprehension of a suspect in unrelated murder cases. Witnesses reported they saw someone use the flashlight from a cellphone when fleeing from the first crime scene.

Meanwhile, security video footage caught the image of someone walking with a cellphone to his ear. Although the two murders occurred a year and a half apart, the police got a judge to issue a warrant. When they pulled up mobile devices meeting the criteria, they hit a match.

Technology Helps Solve Criminal Cases

As you might guess, it’s not just Sensorvault that helps police solve criminal cases. In fact, this product isn’t the only one that shows where you’ve been.

Location. Location. Location.  It’s something you might notice whether you’re using an Android or IOS device. In fact, go to the same place more than once, and your phone will intuitively ask you if you need directions there. And, provide you with the time it takes to get there.

In the meantime, the ACLU reports that several states use stingray tracking devices to mimic cell phone towers and act as surveillance devices.  The ACLU feels their use raises privacy issues. In the meantime, you might be interested to know that the New Jersey State Police uses cell site simulators. It does not appear that local authorities use them.

Do you use a product like Amazon’s Alexa? You should know that the police may express interest in recordings it makes. In New Hampshire, the court ordered the tech giant to turn over recordings made by an Echo smart speaker.  The request was made in conjunction with a 2017 murder case.

With the advent of Ring doorbells, police have more access to video footage. The inexpensive surveillance systems prove instrumental in solving all types of crimes, including burglary, robbery, and assaults.

Contact Us

Accused of a crime? No matter what aspect technology plays in the prosecution making a case against you, you need experienced legal advice. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone to learn how we can assist you in preparing your criminal defense

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