Cops Catch Suspected Murderers Using Google’s Search Records

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Sarah Weaver Staff Writer
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Police have been using Google search histories to catch suspected criminals, but the tactic is getting pushback from privacy and abortion rights advocates.

Police have gotten judges to order Google to use the tactic, known as reverse keyword search, to scan their massive database of searches for individuals who have looked up a certain address or topic.

Abortion rights advocates are concerned the tactic will be used to catch women who search for abortions in states where the procedure is illegal. (RELATED: Government Officials Want More Data Collection. Time To Say ‘Thanks But No Thanks’)

A teenager charged with setting fire to the home of a Senegalese immigrant family, killing five, is challenging the practice in court. The 17-year-old and his lawyers argue the police violated the Constitution when they got a judge to order Google to search their database for those looking up the address.

“People have a privacy interest in their internet search history, which is really an archive of your personal expression,” one of the teen’s lawyers said.

“Digital technology and the data trails tech companies collect are unavoidably connected to our daily lives. It’s urgent we ban these warrants,” the ACLU said of the practice.

Reverse keyword searches have been used by police to solve a number of criminal cases, including a sexual assault case, an arson case, and a fraud case.