Google helps law enforcement by handing over data without a warrant, EPIC claims

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Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) has released a brief outlining that Google may be helping the government conduct warrantless searches into the online behavior of American citizens and billions of users around the world.

EPIC in their brief proclaims that Google is scanning billions of files that are used by users in search for content that is considered illegal. Google then sends the information attained from their scanning process in a secret manner to law enforcement agencies.

The scanning involves the use of a proprietary algorithm to investigate files and data uploaded by their users. This algorithm has been kept secret by Google as they have not released it to the public for scrutiny. If the algorithm identifies data uploaded by a user that match certain secret criteria that Google has created, Google then sends personal information about the user to various law enforcement agencies. The law enforcement agencies can then use that information to pursue a criminal investigation.

EPIC outlines in their amicus brief, which is an independent response to the United States vs. Wilson case, that US law enforcement agencies are using Google due to their status as a private entity to bypass the fourth amendment.

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The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires due process and probable cause before “searching or seizing” someone’s property. In the US, a search warrant needs to be issued by a magistrate or judge for someone’s property to be searched or seized by a law enforcement agency.

Google, being a private company does not have any obligations towards or need to abide by the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, it can do data searches on a large scale on behalf of government agencies. The US Deep State has been increasingly using this strategy to bypass the fourth amendment citizen protections and conduct user data searches on a mass scale with obtaining a search warrant.

EPIC is an independent non-profit research organization situated in Washington, D.C. The organization focuses on getting media and public attention on privacy issues and other human rights issues such as freedom of expression. They have a history of making sure American’s have a right to freedom of speech and privacy online.

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Nicholas Becker
Nicholas Becker contributes and reports on politically-focussed features and news for Reclaim and is an advocate for online privacy from Hobart, Australia. [email protected]