An Explosion in Geofence Warrants Threatens Privacy Across the US

Police around the country have drastically increased their use of geofence warrants, a widely criticized investigative technique that collects data from any user who was in a specified area within a certain time range, according to new figures shared by Google. Law enforcement has served geofence warrants to Google since 2016, but the company has detailed for the first time exactly how many it receives.

The report shows that requests have spiked dramatically in the last three years, rising as much as tenfold in some states. In California alone, law enforcement made 1909 requests last year, compared to 209 in 2018. Similarly, geofence warrants in Florida leapt from 81 requests in 2018 to more than 800 last year. In Ohio, requests rose from seven to 400 in that same time frame.

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