90 Miles From Tyranny : Innocent Man Discovers Google Tracked His Location, Gave Info to Police

Monday, March 23, 2020

Innocent Man Discovers Google Tracked His Location, Gave Info to Police

If you don’t understand just how much data big tech has on you — and what it can be used for — consider the case of Zachary McCoy.

According to NBC News, Google was taken to court by the Gainesville, Florida, police and was going to turn over all of McCoy’s data to them if he didn’t go to court. The 30-year-old restaurant worker received this news out of the blue through email. The email said he had seven days before the data was released and offered only one clue to go on: a case number that dealt with a burglary at a 97-year-old woman’s house nearly a year earlier.

The Gainesville Police Department had zeroed in on McCoy because they’d obtained what’s known as a “geofence warrant,” which NBC described as “a police surveillance tool that casts a virtual dragnet over crime scenes, sweeping up Google location data — drawn from users’ GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular connections — from everyone nearby.”

Four days after the burglary, the Gainesville Police Department went to a judge and requested Google turn over records of devices using its services in the area during the window in which it was alleged the burglary happened.

There was McCoy’s problem. He used a cycling app which tracked his phone’s location and sent it to Google. On March 29, 2019, the day of the burglary, he’d done three loops in front of the burglary victim’s house. But then, he says, he always did numerous laps around the neighborhood.

After reviewing the data they got from the warrant and sifting through it, the police became interested in McCoy and decided to go back to Google so that they could find out more about who was behind the account.

“I was hit with a really deep fear,” McCoy said regarding the email.

“I didn’t know what it was about, but I knew the police wanted to get something from me,” he added. “I was afraid I was going to get charged with something, I don’t know what.”

McCoy had always tried to maintain anonymity online, he told NBC.

“For most of his life, McCoy said, he had tried to live online anonymously, a habit that dated to the early days of the internet when there was...

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  1. 'Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power'
    Benito Mussolini

  2. Problem #1: The App the guy was using to track how many miles he rode on his bike, elevation changes, and all that has his data, too.

    Problem #2: The Android OS for phones was invented so Google could harvest tons of data on users and sell that. Same with GMail, same with Blogger (blogspot.com), same with every other thing they do.

    Problem #3: Apple iOS phones are only marginally better, although Apple did fight cracking a phone for the police all the way into the courts.