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In the last three years, Google says, public agencies in California have increasingly demanded location data collected from people’s phones and other devices through geofence warrants—an evidence-gathering mechanism that privacy advocates argue violates civil liberties.
Between 2018 and 2020, the company said in a recent transparency report, it had received 3,655 geofence warrant requests from agencies operating in the state.
See our data here.
But California’s OpenJustice dataset, where law enforcement agencies are required by state law to disclose executed geofence warrants or requests for geofence information, tells a completely different story.
A Markup review of the state’s data between 2018 and 2020 found only 41 warrants that could clearly constitute a geofence warrant. We looked for any warrant described as targeting information such as “users within a geographical area” and “google id’s in a certain area.