In January, a Florida resident received a shocking email from Google’s legal investigations support team.
Zachary McCoy was preparing to leave for work at a restaurant in Gainesville, Florida.
NBC News reported that local police were demanding that McCoy turn over information related to his Google account.
The company said it would hand over the data unless he went to court and tried to block it. He only had seven days to get this settled.
“I was hit with a really deep fear,” McCoy, 30, said, although he couldn’t think of any crime he had committed. McCoy had an Android phone, which was connected to his Google account, which has a wide array of Google products, including Gmail and YouTube. At the time, law enforcement wanted access to all of it.
“I didn’t know what it was about, but I knew the police wanted to get something from me,” McCoy said during a recent interview. “I was afraid I was going to get charged with something, I don’t know what.”
In the notice from Google McCoy found and searched for it on the Gainesville Police Department’s website. From there, he found a one-page investigation report on the burglary of an elderly woman’s home from ten months prior. The crime took place less than a mile from the home that McCoy shared with two other roommates.
McCoy became even more confused. He knew he was never involved in the burglary and had never been to the victim’s house.
McCoy was afraid that going to the police would have him arrested. He then went to his parents’ home to explain the situation, which led them to find a lawyer to help out McCoy in this bizarre case.
The lawyer, Caleb Kenyon, discovered that the notice had been propelled by a “geofence warrant,” a police surveillance tool that initiates a systematic search of crime scenes, collecting Google location data, which is gathered from users’ GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular connections from everyone in a certain area.
These warrants, which have recently increased in issuance during the last two years, can help police locate potential suspects when leads go cold. They also collect data from people who have no involvement with the crime, often unknown to them. Even Google described this as “a significant incursion on privacy.”
McCoy checked his phone again. McCoy enjoys biking and he used an exercise-tracking app, RunKeeper, to keep a record of his rides. The app used his phone’s location services, which gave Google a record of his movement. He took a look at the route on the day of the March 29, 2019, burglary and realized that he had passed by the victim’s house three times within an hour. According to McCoy, this is part of the frequent loops he took through his neighborhood,
“It was a nightmare scenario,” McCoy recounted. “I was using an app to see how many miles I rode my bike and now it was putting me at the scene of the crime. And I was the lead suspect.”
The victim of the burglary was a 97-year-old woman who informed police she had several pieces of jewelry, including an engagement ring, worth more than $2,000, stolen. Four days after she reported the burglary, Gainesville police went to an Alachua County judge with the warrant for Google.
In the warrant request, the police officer demanded records of all devices using Google services that were in the vicinity of the woman’s home when the burglary was supposed to have occured
Police agencies across the nation, including the FBI, have been using Google geofence warrants. In a court filing, Google revealed that geofence warrants requests from state and federal law enforcement authorities have been on the uptick recently. According to the NBC News article, “more than 1,500 percent from 2017 to 2018, and by 500 percent from 2018 to 2019.”
Thankfully, McCoy was no longer considered a suspect.
However, this should have privacy advocates concerned.
On the civil liberties front, Big Tech is also dangerous because of its unprecedented ability to track people’s movements. Combined with a power-hungry government, Big Tech could form an unholy alliance with the sole focus of controlling people’s behavior.
For political elites, this could be a dream come true. But for everyday Americans, this would be a dystopian nightmare.
Leftists are Having a Meltdown Over Trump Potentially Winning Minnesota
Joshua Klein of Breitbart News reported on a leaked document that the conservative outlet obtained revealing a plan by radical leftist organizations to stoke up unrest in Minnesota after a potential Trump victory.
The group is gearing up for post-election disturbances and is planning to carry out “strategic disruption” on a large scale.
TakeAction Minnesota is leading the charge and is calling for leftists to get out on the streets according to a confidential document being passed around the group’s leadership. The document serves as an instruction manual for what leftists should do out on the streets in the next week.
“We believe that regardless of the strength of the Minnesota election system, mass mobilization will and must happen in Minnesota to defend democracy,” the leaked document stated.
“We expect that this mobilization will create space and opportunity for unrest, primarily in Minneapolis. In this context, the situation could rapidly spiral beyond control depending on the nature of the unrest and the State’s reaction.”
The group alluded to the right-wing, in addition to the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), as potential actors who will incite or facilitate violence. In light of these facts, Minnesota leftist organizations must be ready for unrest according to the document’s advice.
“The possibility of right-wing violence is real, as is the possibility of MPD inciting or enabling violence,” the document declared. Further, it contended that the MPD is “either disengaged or instigating tension” since the “uprising” that kicked off in the aftermath of George Floyd.
TakeAction Minnesota was heavily involved in the mass movement after the death of George Floyd. They were one of the most vocal groups calling for the abolition of MPD and became a leader in the national push to “defund the police.” After the group made enough noise, a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council promised to dissolve the Police Department, while vowing to replace it with a new system of public safety.
Leftist groups in Minneapolis expect a wide range of possibilities on November 3 — unclear results, Trump refusing to accept the results, or a suspected case of election interference in the chance that Trump wins.
The document cites an alleged rise in “white nationalist organization and activity” which has generated “multiple nights of infiltrator terror that targeted Black and brown business corridors and nearby neighborhoods” during “the most recent uprisings.”
“It is possible Black churches may also become a target. St. Cloud and Duluth are also two cities to keep in mind given their proximity to large white nationalist geographies and demographic and ideological make-up,” the document cautioned. “Additionally, we know of white nationalist infiltration and organization at Greater Minnesota universities.”
One section titled “Theory of What Will Happen,” ends up predicting a contested election in Minnesota and other states. This section outlines the groups’ role to “support efforts by the State (led by the Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State) to resolve the contest rapidly and to prevent right-wing vigilantes, with or without the support of local officials, from interfering with the certification of Minnesota’s electors by the ‘safe harbor’ date [December 8, the last day for states to resolve contested election results]” and “to prevent illegitimate Federal efforts to intervene on behalf of local right-wing groups.”
Should other states have disputed elections, the leftist organizations have vowed a swift response.
“Knowing that there may be energy to join nearby mass mobilizations, we may choose to host actions here to diminish the amount of out-of-state actors activating in that contest,” the document read. “For contests farther away, we will work to maintain public demand as asked to support their work and coordinated via national infrastructure.”
Election Day is quickly coming and Minnesota will be a key battleground state for people to watch. Trump barely lost it by 45,000 votes and as of now Biden is ahead by 48.0 to 43.3 on RealClearPolitics. Win or lose, Minnesota will remain a crucial state for a newly re-aligned GOP’s electoral strategy.
Trump must continue hammering away at his pro-law & order to ensure victory in this state and coast on to a resounding victory in the General Election.
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