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Geofence Technology Is Not Used to Determine Guilt

Maxim Sorokopud Maxim Sorokopud
26th April 2021
Geofence Technology Is Not Used to Determine Guilt
Police have used it to identify suspects (Getty Images)

The Claim

Google’s, “Geofence,” allows innocent people to be found guilty by telling law enforcement that someone was near a crime scene. 

Emerging story

In March, 2021, the conspiracy theory website Glitch.News posted an article that claimed that Google had created a new program called Geofence. The article stated that this program would allow the police to find people guilty of a crime just for being in the vicinity of a crime. 

A range of social media users then shared this claim. 

A supporting image within the article body
A supporting image within the article body
A supporting image within the article body

Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar’s Investigation has found that it is false for Glitch.News to claim that Google’s geofencing program will make people guilty merely for being near the scene of a crime. This article appears to have misrepresented an article from a reputable website. 

In late 2020, Wired launched a report that stated that police departments were increasingly relying on Google and other large tech firms’ geofencing data to identify crime suspects. 

The Wired article does state that the police are using geofence warrants as an investigative technique. It also highlights that some have been critical of geofence warrants, citing that they are an invasion of privacy that lead to unconstitutional searches. 

Additionally, both Wired and the Glitch.News cite an example from 2018, when Google geofencing was used to identify a suspect in a murder case. The geofencing data in this case stated that the suspect, Jorge Molina, was at the crime scene. But it later transpired that Molina had lent his phone to a man, his mother’s boyfriend, who had actually murdered the victim, and Molina’s account was logged into the device at this time. 

Molina’s case shows how Google geofencing data, and data from other large tech companies, can sometimes implicate the wrong person in a crime. However, it did not result in a guilty conviction for Molina. While he did spend six days in jail, he was later freed once the authorities had determined that he was innocent. He also sued for wrongful arrest.

There are legitimate concerns about the constitutionality of the police using geofence warrants in their investigations. For instance, in another case, an innocent man’s name was given to a journalist in connection to burglary, merely because the man was within 170 feet of the crime. But while geofencing data has led to incorrect arrests and defamation, it is not used solely to determine guilt, as the source article claims.

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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