Search Warrant Issued For Everyone Who Googled Identity Theft Victim's Name

Google search

A Google search, the warrant application says, reveals the photo used on the bogus passport. Specifically, they wanted names, email addresses, social security numbers, payment information, account data and IP addresses, which could be enough to identify where those searches were made. The victim's first name is Douglas with the last name redacted in the scanned warrant available on Tony Webster's blog and Webster poses an interesting question in his post.

"This kind of warrant is cause for concern because it's closer to these dragnet searches that the Fourth Amendment is created to prevent", said William McGeveran, a law professor at the University of Minnesota.

A search warrant has been granted by a USA judge which allows the police to direct Google provide the names of anyone who searched for the suggest four variants of the victim's name on Google between December 1, 2016, and January 7, 2017. Edina police declined to comment Thursday on the warrant, saying it is part of an ongoing investigation. Spire Credit Union recently notified the authorities that a customer named "Douglas" had transferred $28,500 United States dollars from his bank account.

Additionally, the schemer faxed a copy of a forged US passport with a photo that looked like the victim.

As a result, Edina police suspect the criminal must have queried Google using a certain combination of search terms revolving around the victim's name. The warrant was granted by Hennepin County Judge Gary Larson. The image was not rendered on Yahoo or Bing, according to the documents.

Google originally received an administrative subpoena, but they refused to give up the data because a judge had not signed off on it (a judge's signature is not required for an administrative subpoena).

Under a probable cause standard, no way.

He added that he hoped police would find a way to guard or exclude data obtained through the warrant that was unrelated to the investigation.

"I'm concerned both about ensnaring innocent people but also ... that this become a pattern", Rob Kahn, a privacy law professor at the University of St. Thomas, tells the paper.

A lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights nonprofit based in San Francisco, tells the Star Tribune that the evidence collected through the search warrant might not stand up to muster if it goes to court, and that Google could also challenge the warrant. In fact, Google has been known to make efforts against such things in the past.

"If this warrant is constitutional, then the California highway patrol could ask Google for information on people who were speeding while using Google Maps", Cardozo said.



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