You can be arrested for googling something illegal. First arrest of its kind

Google has always been a company willing to collaborate with law enforcement, even if this generates criticism from an industry of users and experts who consider this practice to affect many users.

This time the criticism is due to a report by journalist Robert Snell mentioning that Google has provided authorities with lists of ip addresses of users who searched for a specific address shortly before someone set fire to a protected witness’ car in a sexual abuse case.  This request for information resulted in the arrest of Michael Williams, close to the individual accused in this criminal case.

Agents used this information to link IP addresses to Williams’ phone number; after obtaining an order, they accessed their Google data, discovering that the individual had conducted internet searches “related to witness intimidation and to search for data on countries without extradition treaties with the United States.”

Investigators also obtained a search warrant for information from Verizon, detecting that Williams’ phone had recorded a visit to Kissimmee, Florida, where the witness resides.

In this regard, Williams’ defense has already expressed its intentions to challenge the order obtained by investigators in considering it to be a violation of the human rights of the individual. It should be noted that a search warrant is issued only when addressed to a specific user, while the order used by the investigators posed an ambiguous scenario that allowed them to investigate more than one person.

Specialists consider this to be a violation of the U.S. Fourth Constitutional Amendment, which states that citizens will not be able to be registryed too broadly. In similar backgrounds, judges in different states have ruled that these practices should be considered human rights violations, regardless of whether useful information is obtained in criminal investigations.