What you should know about geofencing - The Hustle
The Hustle

What you should know about geofencing

Geofence and keyboard warrants are useful for law enforcement, but they’re highly controversial.

In January, New York lawmakers proposed banning law enforcement from using geofencing and keyword warrants.

Though the bill hasn’t seen much movement yet, the overturning of Roe v. Wade has returned the issue to the spotlight.

First, what the heck are these warrants?

Geofence and keyword warrants are used to get tech companies like Google to hand over users’ data. Like traditional warrants, they require a judge’s approval.

Geofence warrants use location data to identify people who were near a crime scene at a specific time, per Slate.

Keyword warrants look at online searches made within specific locations or time frames.

Though perhaps useful for law enforcement…

… they’re controversial. New York’s proposed ban is supported by the ACLU and several tech companies, including Google. Also:

Privacy advocates are also concerned…

… that warrants could be used to find people seeking abortions in states where it has or will become illegal.

In May, a report from the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP) detailed how tech might be used to enforce new laws if Roe v. Wade were overturned.

Related: Earlier this month, lawmakers introduced a bill to prevent data brokers from sharing location and health data. Read our coverage here.

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