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Minneapolis police got a search warrant forcing Google to provide details of people who were close to a protest which recorded violent acts, two days after George Floyd's murder last year, according to information leaked by TechCrunch.


On May 27, 2020, two days after George Floyd's murder, there were protests across Minneapolis. In the vicinity of a store, AutoZone, a man wearing a mask was filmed breaking the shop windows with an umbrella. The local Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper said at the time that local police believed he might be a white supremacist.




Account data of people who were in the area




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Be that as it may, Said Abdullahi, resident of Minneapolis, you received an email from Google that your account information was subject to a court order and that he would turn himself in to the police, as he told Tech Crunch. In addition, Abdullahi explained that he had not participated in the acts of violence and that he was only in the area recording the situation with his mobile. This person says they have hired an attorney to try to prevent Google from giving their account information to the Minneapolis police.



The Court order accessed by TechCrunch says police were looking for account data Google "anonymized" from any phone or device that was near the AutoZone store or parking lot between 5:20 PM and 5:40 PM local time on May 27.



A common practice on the part of the authorities




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This request by Google is not an isolated event. According to information provided in 2019, Google said that the number of search warrants on user location data it received increased 1,500% between 2017 and 2018, and more than 500% between 2018 and 2019, although it has not provided specific figures, according to The New York Times. Apparently, Google received more than 180 geographic data registration orders in a single week in 2019.



The NYCLU or New York Civil Liberties Union sent a letter in December 2020 together with other civil rights, labor and civil society organizations, in which asked Google to help oppose the increase in Google user data searches by the forces of order and also spoke of the aforementioned requests related to the location of the citizens.







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It should not be forgotten that in January 2020 a discovery was made public: Google decided to start charging from that month for providing user data to the authorities, given the increase in search warrants and subpoenas from the United States law enforcement agencies and other government agencies. This information was revealed by The New York Times and confirmed by those in Mountain View.



What the law in Spain says about these requests from the authorities



Sergio Carrasco Mayans, consultant at Fase Consulting, explains that in the case of Spain, article 588.septies b on the duty of collaboration of the Criminal Procedure Law contemplates a wide range of possibilities when it comes to obtaining information on electronic traffic data or associated with the communication process of service providers. Therefore, it would be possible to request certain information.



Anyway, in an investigation, "both operators and service providers like Google have very attractive information when acting against this type of act, but it will be necessary to take into account as much what this information actually means as possible margins of error. It is not enough simply that a person is in a certain area to automatically link him to a certain offense, but this will require a greater investigation work a voice obtained location information ", has detailed the lawyer.



On the other hand, we can find that many of the offenders finally did not carry mobile devices, perhaps even deliberately to avoid their location, explains Carrasco. As a lawyer he explains in this regard that "It is important not to incorporate biases into the research, since it can make it difficult to locate of the true offenders. "