REVERSE WARRANT FOR CELL SITE LOCATION INFO RESULTS IN WRONG MAN BEING JAILED | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


REVERSE WARRANT FOR CELL SITE LOCATION INFO RESULTS IN WRONG MAN BEING JAILED

Reverse warrants are the new regular warrants. Ever since law enforcement discovered most Americans carry tracking devices with them 24/7, they've been approaching cellphone providers with warrants targeting geographic areas rather than people.
When a crime has been committed but cops don't have any suspects, they ask Google and others to canvass the area for them. Officers hand providers a geofence and ask for everyone who wandered into the selected area during a certain timeframe. Once cops have everyone, they start looking for someone.

It seems weird but it's really not all that different than sending officers out to areas around crime scenes to ask anyone if they've seen anything. The difference here is cops are getting info about people's movements in an area when they're not suspected of any criminal activity. In addition, the areas covered by warrants often include high-traffic areas like businesses and multi-family housing, increasing the chance cops are going to zero in on the wrong suspect simply because someone lives or works near a crime scene.

That's exactly what happened in Phoenix, Arizona. Detectives investigating a shooting handed a reverse warrant to Google. This data was used to arrest the wrong person, as Jennifer Valentino-DeVries reports for the New York Times.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

With the Chain of Evidence so generally and thoroughly mangled in this country, it is no wonder that programs like The Innocence Project exist, to validate if a person in jail for a crime they did not commit.

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