Google’s Sensorvault Goes Beyond Pinging Tower Data


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If you have ever run a Google search, you might not be aware that Google can search you right back. In a process known as a reverse search location warrant, Google can see what you were researching, and law enforcement is interested, reports Naked Security by Sophos.

 Google’s Sensorvault is an expansive database that can see both the topic of a search, and the location from where a search originated. 

While the information can certainly point to a criminal, it may not be an absolute tool. Google’s Location History feature can be turned off and on, and identifying a phone doesn’t 100 percent prove who was using it. Useful as the stored information can be, law enforcement must be diligent when relying on this information to aid in crime solving.

In one case, according to Naked Security, police arrested Arizona resident Jorge Molina for murder based, in part, on a reverse location warrant. Molina, however, had multiple phones and had to be released after it was confirmed that his former stepfather had access to one of these devices. 

A reverse search that can tell how a perpetrator found information to pull off a bank heist is only valuable if the investigators understand the medium well enough to interpret the data they receive. Technology could, for example, pinpoint the household where the research was conducted. Police work by trained professionals can then sort out who conducted the search so that an arrest can be made.  

September 10, 2019

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