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Google sharing data with US forces raises concerns

IANS  |  San Francisco 

At a time when concerns over data collection and breach by tech majors are on the rise, it has been reported that US officials have been turning to a particular database called "Sensorvault" to trace location and other data of people as part of their investigations.

The database, that is otherwise maintained to collect user-information from products for ad targeting, contains detailed location records from hundreds of millions of phones from around the world, CNET reported on Saturday.

On coming under question of exposing personal user data to officials, the giant ensured that the information obtained through the database is anonymous and that it reveals specific information only after the police has analysed and narrowed down the devices which would be relevant to the investigation.

"We vigorously protect the of our users while supporting the important work of law enforcement," the report quoted Richard Salgado, Director of and information security at as saying.

Before the officials could use Google's data-base for investigation purposes, they require a "geofence" warrant -- that specifies an area and a time period that helps Google gather information about the devices that were available in the specified window.

"We have created a new process for these specific requests designed to honour our legal obligations while narrowing the scope of data disclosed and only producing information that identifies specific users where legally required," Salgado added.

Even though seeking help from tech giants is not uncommon, the use of "Sensorvault" data has raised concerns about innocent people who could be wrongly or mistakenly implicated.

"interviewed a man who was arrested last year in a murder investigation after Google's data had reportedly landed him on the police's radar. But he was released from jail after a week, when investigators pinpointed and arrested another suspect," the report added, citing an example of an innocent getting into trouble because of Google's data.

Tech giants like Facebook, and Google have been under global scrutiny following the countess data leak, hacking and non-consensual collection of data scandals.

particularly, become infamous after it admitted in April 2018 that information of up to 87 million people, mostly US citizens, may have been improperly shared with the British political consultancy firm

Google has also been subjected to scrutiny after it was revealed that the giant had been tracking people's location even after they turned off location-sharing on their phones.

According to information available on public domains, in 2017, accounted for more than 80 per cent of all sales to end users worldwide and by 2020, 85 per cent

of all would run the Google-owned

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, April 14 2019. 14:36 IST
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