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Police Obtained Warrants Demanding Info On All Google Users Near Four Crime Scenes

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Police across the country have been attempting to use Google data and other information from social networks to help them solve cases. One recent story about the Raleigh Police Department shows how they have been using Google data to track down suspects, but in order to do it, they had to cast a wide net, obtaining information on all active users near at least four different crime scenes.

Ultimately, police were only able to solve one of these cases with the data that they obtained, but in the process, they violated the privacy of tens of thousands without them even knowing. In many cases, the fine print of these warrants restrict Google from making their customers aware of the searches, and this even applies to innocent users who were caught up the surveillance net.

City and county officials told WRAL that this is a “natural evolution of criminal investigative techniques.”

However, legal experts say that this is an unprecedented move that puts the privacy of many innocent people at risk.

Jonathan Jones, a former Durham prosecutor pointed out that if Google has your info, law enforcement probably does also.

 “We are willingly sharing an awful lot of our lives with Google, but do people  understand that in sharing that information with Google, they’re also  potentially sharing it with law enforcement?” Jones said.

Nathan Freed Wessler, staff attorney with the American Civil  Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, warned about the potential dangers of using the technology this way.

 “From an average smartphone user’s perspective, it’s a little surprising once you start to learn the full scope of information about our locations and whereabouts and activities that companies like Google hold. At the end of the day, this tactic unavoidably risks getting information about totally innocent people. Location information is really revealing and private about people’s habits and activities and what they’re doing,” Wessler said.

Through GPS data, Google knows your every move, which could be helpful to police, but it could also create a dystopian nightmare for everyday people.

The warrant below, obtained during a murder investigation in 2015, provided specific details about how the data will be collected and analyzed.

The warrant below, also obtained during a murder investigation, this time in 2016, allows police to obtain all cell phone data within 150 meters of a specific target, which could be thousands of people in a large city with tall buildings. This could also include people who drove by the location within the hours that the warrant allows.

Google’s most recent transparency report revealed that the government forced them to hand over information with 5,200 different warrants, and the company followed through with giving them information about 81% of the time. Out of all of those requests and all of that privacy violated, just four cases were solved using Google data.

Last week, I wrote an article comparing results from Google and Duck Duck Go and showed that in addition to tracking you, Google also provides a far inferior search engine.

Google became the most popular search engine on the web because it connected people with the links that were close to their searches while offering up a wide variety of different sources, but now it is obviously far past time to move onto more trusted platforms. In the early days of the internet, search engines and service providers like youtube acted as a gateway to the world, but over the years the most powerful of these companies have increasingly begun to act as gatekeepers, caving into pressure from the government.


Image: Valery Brozhinsky/Shutterstock.

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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