Google provides police with user info based on search terms

Google is giving police info that identifies users who have searched for terms the police specify, reports CNet's Alfred Ng. The practice is exposed in the case of an arsonist, collared after police asked Google for anyone who had searched for the victim's address. Google yielded the suspect's IP address, and the cops figured out the rest.

"This 'keyword warrant' evades the Fourth Amendment checks on police surveillance," said Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project. "When a court authorizes a data dump of every person who searched for a specific term or address, it's likely unconstitutional."

That Google was prepared to do this is no surprise, as it already provides similar information to police based on location. But a reminder, all the same, that everything you type into Google goes on your permanent record and that they're happy to do work for the police that the police cannot legally do themselves.