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Keyword warrants are challenged in Colorado

Just searching for something can make you a suspect.

Lawyers in Colorado are questioning the legality of keyword-search warrants. According to a newly filed motion, after failing to find any leads in an arson case in Colorado in 2020, the police served a warrant demanding information on anyone that had searched the address of the location of the fire.

Related: Secret warrants against Google search terms are on the rise

Google refused to comply with the first two warrants but complied with the third, helping the police find suspects. As a result, three teenagers were charged with murder.

However, the keyword-search warrant has been legally challenged by the lawyers of one of the defendants, Gavin Seymour. They describe these warrants as “a digital dragnet of immense proportions.”

In a filing at the Supreme Court of Colorado, the defense argued that a keyword-search warrant “is profoundly different from traditional search warrants seeking data belonging to a suspect,” Bloomberg first reported.

“Instead, the process operates in reverse — search everyone first, and identify suspects later.”

The lawyers argued that while responding to keyword-search warrants, Google has to search billions of users, which raises privacy concerns.

“This is a really significant new legal issue with tremendous implications for not only Mr. Seymour but for everyone in the country who uses Google to run searches,” said Michael Price, one of the lawyers representing Seymour.

The lawyers want the Supreme Court to review the issue, following a ruling by a judge to deny their motion to suppress the evidence.

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