Search warrant on Edina Google searches could have big implications

A search warrant requested by Edina Police and approved by a Hennepin County Judge this past February is raising privacy concerns.

The warrant seeks the Google search history of anyone in Edina who googled the name “Douglas Junker” between December 1 and January 7.

Junker, an Edina resident, was a victim of identity theft that court documents allege cost him $28,000. The thieves allegedly used a photo obtained through a Google search to forge his passport.

Investigators hope that the warrant will reveal the name of the person who searched for and found the photo that was allegedly key to the theft. But privacy rights advocates and legal experts warn it’s a slippery slope.

“The implications of this are frightening because thousands of people could have their personal information, what they’ve googled, out with the police,” said criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino.

Tamburino says the search history collected by police would become public after the investigation ends. Google has said they plan to challenge the warrant.

“This is called a shotgun approach, it’s completely backwards,” said Tamburino.