Fascinating article by Will Oremus and posted on Slate Magazine regarding the possibility of the police using “real time” Google searches to possibly prevent crimes:
The first thing I thought about when I started reading this article was the Steven Spielberg directed movie Minority Report. While not a big fan of the film (I thought the movie’s entire second act was really silly), the concept of crime prevention before the fact was fascinating and quite thought provoking. The author of this article does mention that film, as well, but notes that while the movie’s science fictional psychics do not exist, it is possible to look in on suspicious Google searches while they occur to then get some idea of the possibility of a future crime.
People may Google all kinds of things, including how to commit various crimes, and it is that which the police, legally, could search for.
The big problem, however, is the same one that Minority Report alludes to: How do you know the person Googling suspicious/criminal things isn’t just curious and would never actually pursue anything illegal? Further, if searching through real time Google queries becomes common place among law enforcement, there will inevitably be “jokers” out there who make criminal-sounding Google searches just to provoke a reaction. Of that I have little doubt.
Still, fascinating article and food for thought.