Google Location Data Turns Florida Biker Into A Burglary Suspect

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A biker unknowingly became a suspect in a burglary due to his fitness app when police requested location data from Google devices near the scene of the crime.

Written By Shubham Bose | Mumbai | Updated On:
Google app's location data turns biker into a suspect in a burglary

A Florida man unknowingly became a suspect in a burglary due to his fitness app. Zachery McCoy who kept the location tracking feature on his fitness app on, became a suspect after police collected data from nearby devices in the area of the burglary. The police determined that McCoy was at the scene of the crime through the data provided to them through his fitness app.

Biker later cleared

According to reports, McCoy had ridden past the house that had been burgled three times on the day it occurred. This was merely McCoy's usual route but made him a suspect.  According to reports, McCoy was contacted by Google's legal investigation team in January claiming that Gainesville police were demanding information from his Google account.

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McCoy was eventually cleared but still had to hire a lawyer in an attempt to find out exactly what information the police were searching for. The geofence warrant that the Gainesville police had acquired is a type of search warrant that requires Google to provide data from any devices that were near the scene of the burglary. This information includes one's location.

New restrictions on location tracking

Google last month announced that it will place a new restriction on Android apps that can track one's location in the background. The new review process by Google will check and determine whether the app in question definitely needs to access the person's data. According to reports, the new changes were announced in a blog post to Android app developers. 

As per reports, this new review process will extend to all apps that require background access of the user's location from August 3 and this feature will expand to all existing apps on November 3rd.

While location tracking can be very essential for many apps, it can also be very invasive when apps indiscriminately ask for location access. Background tracking is even worse because it means that users are completely unaware of which apps have access to your location. This new review process by Google will force apps to justify why they need to use the feature and have them limit their tracking when they can’t.

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