Silicon Valley backs NYC ban on geofences and keyword search warrants

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A coalition of tech giants including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo pledged support for New York account this will prohibit the use of conflicting search warrants that can identify people based on their location data and Internet search keywords.

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AT brief statementa coalition known as Reform Government Surveillance said it “supports the passage of New York Assembly Bill A84A, the Reverse Location Search Prohibition Act, which prohibits the use of reverse location search and reverse keyword search.”

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The bill, if passed, would be the first state law to ban so-called geofencing warrants and keyword search warrants, which are based on requiring technology companies to hand over data about users who were near a crime scene or searched for specific keywords in certain time. specific point in time. But the bill hasn’t moved forward since it went before committee for deliberation in January, the first major hurdle before it can be considered for a floor vote.

Reform Government Surveillance was created in 2013 by several Silicon Valley tech companies to lobby lawmakers. US Surveillance Law Reforms following the leak of classified documents by NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The coalition now has 11 members — Amazon, Apple, Dropbox, Evernote, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Snap, Twitter, Yahoo (owns TechCrunch) and Zoom.

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The tech coalition’s move to back New York’s bill isn’t entirely altruistic. At least three members of the RGS – Google, Microsoft and Yahoo – are often used by law enforcement to obtain user location and search records due to the sheer volume of data they hold on billions of users worldwide. Google said last year that about a quarter of all its legal claims in the US are geofencing warrants.a figure that grows exponentially every year.

Law enforcement is asking for geofencing warrants and is signing a judge to order companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, which collect and store billions of location data points from their users’ phones and apps, to hand over location data on phones that have been in specific geographical area at certain times to help identify suspects. Keyword search warrants work in a similar way, except that a judge orders a search giant like Google to hand over user records of who searched for specific keywords at a certain point in time.

Critics say these kinds of warrants are unconstitutional and can include details of individuals who have nothing to do with the crime, and in some cases can be charged with misdemeanors simply for being physically near the scene of the crime.

ACLU, which supports Following the passage of the bill, TechCrunch reported that thousands of people called on state legislators to pass the bill after launching an email campaign last week.


Credit: techcrunch.com /

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