‘Googling’ a certain name could get you caught up in a police investigation

warrant google mass strada
If you performed a Google search for the name of Douglas [redacted] then a warrant issued by a Minnesota judge could well apply to you. In a case that has drawn concern from analysts over its broad reach, the judge issued a warrant that covered anyone who searched for a certain name on Google, in an attempt to help police track down a passport forger.

According to the warrant, the case targets a person who used a fake passport to enable the transfer of $28,500 from a Spire Credit Union to a Bank of America account. When investigators searched Google for the victim of fraud, they discovered the image used on the faux passport was available through Google images. While we know the victim’s first name is Douglas, the surname has been redacted from the warrant.

Although the warrant request was filed within the township of Edina in Minnesota, its reach is potentially unlimited, meaning anyone who searched for that person’s name between December 1, 2016 and January 7, 2017, could have their details handed over to the police.

Those details include everything Google has to hand, too. That includes IP addresses, MAC addresses, names, addresses, telephone numbers, date of birth, email address, payment information, and social security numbers.

It’s not clear at this time whether Google would comply with such a warrant. It has previously rejected an administrative subpoena that attempted to force its hand in a similar manner. The Register highlights how the firm has refused to cooperate with some requests in the past and has a vested interest in protecting the identities of its users.

It did release a generic statement in request for comment, saying that it would “always push back when [it received] excessively broad requests for data about [its] users.”

There is also the question of whether such a warrant is even legally viable under Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. However, the harvesting of mass data in what is often described as “dragnet” information-gathering tactics by law enforcement and intelligence agencies has become far more commonplace in recent years.

Indeed 2017 will be an important year when it comes to this issue, as many politicians and lobby groups hope to force Congress to allow the special provisions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to expire.


After fourth attack, hacker puts personal records of 26M people up for sale

A serial hacker going by the name of Gnosticplayers is selling the personal data of 26 million people who have been using the services of six different companies from across the world.

Adventurous and electric, Porsche’s second station wagon will arrive in 2020

The Mission E Cross Turismo concept Porsche unveiled during the 2018 Geneva Auto Show will morph into a production model tentatively named Taycan Cross Turismo. This 600-horsepower electric station wagon will arrive in showrooms by 2021.

Sibling rivalry: The Tesla Model Y takes on the Tesla Model 3

Tesla expanded its lineup with a fourth car named Model Y. It's an electric crossover positioned as a more spacious alternative to the Model 3. The two cars share about 75 percent of their components, but they're aimed at different buyers.

Quindim, quiche or quesito? What will Android Q be called?

We always like to wildly speculate about the next dessert-themed name for Android, but the letter Q is making that tougher than usual. Here are our best guesses and suggestions for the full name of Android Q.

Tired of paying a monthly fee for Word? The best Microsoft Office alternatives

Looking for a competent word processor that isn't Microsoft Word? Thankfully, the best alternatives to Microsoft Office offer robust features, expansive compatibility, and an all-too-familiar aesthetic. Here are our favorites.

Happy 30th, World Wide Web. Here’s how you changed the world, for good and bad

Thirty years ago, Tim Berners-Lee proposed the basics of the World Wide Web to the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Here's how the web has changed the world, and how the world may soon change the web.
Social Media

Twitter takes a cue from Instagram and Snapchat with new quick-swipe camera

Twitter is giving the "what's happening" treatment to photos and video by allowing users to access the in-app camera fast enough to catch and share the moment. The new Twitter camera is now accessible with a swipe.

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've handpicked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on the ways to watch all the March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.
Social Media

Yep, it’s not just you. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are down for many

Facebook's family of apps has been suffering issues for much of the day. Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook itself have been out of action for users around the world, with the company scrambling to sort it out.

Privacy-focused DuckDuckGo added to Chrome as a default search option

DuckDuckGo is now listed as a default search option on Google’s popular Chrome browser. The privacy-focused search engine was added this week as part of the browser's latest update.

Netgear’s new Nighthawk Pro Gaming router keeps you connected at a nice price

Netgear's latest router expands its Nighthawk range with a $200 entry. It's still fast and helps reduce lag in gaming, but it does it at the lowest price of a Nighthawk Pro Gaming router yet.

Hey Google, why did you kill off Allo, your best messaging app in years?

Allo, Google's messaging app, has shut down. I convinced my closest friends and family to switch to the app two-and-a-half years ago when it debuted, and we've been using it since. With its death, I'm feeling pain and sadness.