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Google Search Results Are Putting People Behind Bars

In early 2005, Lee Harbert, an investment banker from Oakland, CA, fled the scene of a hit-and-run accident and was later sentenced to three years in prison. Aside from finding one of the woman's earrings between his car hood and windshield, police also found incriminating evidence on his computer when they searched his house. His Google Search queries showed terms like "hit and run," "auto parts" and "auto glass reporting requirements to law enforcement," only a few short days after the incident — enough evidence to help convict Harbert once and for all.

Not surprisingly, there have been many other cases where a person's Google Search history has helped solve a crime. In terms of crime investigation, if police already have a search warrant, I think this is a great way to find evidence. Having said that I'd be curious to know if Google hands over any search information from a specific IP address, or if this is all generated from browser history? How do you feel about this?

Join The Conversation
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Luckily for us, law enforcement's probably too strapped for cash to have many people on the task of looking at people's search histories preemptively anyway :p
itsme3683 itsme3683 8 years
Like the others, I'm fine if it's through history, and like Jude C said, not preemptively. I'll google stuff like "how to crack a safe" or "drano bomb" because I watch too much TV and google is the sh!t. So I think it would suck if homeland busted down my door right now and arrested me Minority Report-style before I did anything, but if a drano bomb went off at my school, I'm probably screwed.
LoveSarah LoveSarah 8 years
I wont lie, some strange things have been googled on my computer. But, for violent cases, and if it went by history, not IP address, that would be fine.
willowdiamond willowdiamond 8 years
this should be under the 'how stupid can some people be?' files.
eckeltricity eckeltricity 8 years
Not that I plan on committing a crime anytime soon, but I always clear my history. Saves me some embarrassment at times o.o
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
"I think this idea makes sense in this situation, but it shouldn't really count as evidence. People look things up all the time, it doesn't mean they have anything to do with what they looked up." That's true, and I'd be against preemptive action taken based on people's search history, but I think when the searches match with crimes that have been committed (the Casey Anthony case comes to mind), it should be used as evidence.
candace87 candace87 8 years
I think this idea makes sense in this situation, but it shouldn't really count as evidence. People look things up all the time, it doesn't mean they have anything to do with what they looked up.
eLdanae eLdanae 8 years
as wicked said, if this is all generated from browser history, sure. I'm kinda iffy about Google sending certain information tied with IP addresses. In one hand, more serious crimes, especially violent ones, I feel it would be okay to pull anything you can get, on the other hand, where do they draw that line? Where do we say this is okay, and this isn't. I'm doubting that I'm making sense, I think i'm still asleep :)
wickedcupofjoe wickedcupofjoe 8 years
If this is all generated from browser history then I'm all for it. Although, I've searched for things simply because I didn't know what it was/meant. But in this case, I think it's perfectly fine.
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