That Google Van in Your Neighborhood Could Be Police in Disguise

Google surveillance privacy

In Philadelphia, officers are under he spotlight for using a Google Maps logo to disguise a surveillance van.

GoogleStreetViewCar_Subaru_Impreza_at_Google_CampusMay 16, 2016—According to the Associated Press, officers in Philadelphia, PA used a Google Maps logo to disguise a surveillance van. After the incident was unveiled, Police spokesman Lt. John Stanford claimed officers weren’t authorized by the department to use a private company’s decal on the van. While Stanford claimed the decal was removed promptly the same day, the officer offered no details on whether the officers involved would be disciplined. Instead, Stanford says the officers were simply “being creative.”

Google claims it’s now looking into the report after confirming the van had nothing to do with the Silicon Valley giant.

AP reports that the most common Google Maps vehicles are actually compact cars mounted with cameras. These vehicles are usually wrapped in the company’s logo and mapping graphics.

In the documentary on the NSA former contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden entitled Citizenfour, Snowden is heard explaining that once the US government suspected Snowden had gone missing, his girlfriend noticed a series of different vans with logos of phone companies and others around the neighborhood. As he’s seen attempting to exchange messages with his girlfriend during the movie, he tells journalist Glenn Greenwald that the vans could have been sent by the government to spy on her.

Do you believe law enforcement uses disguised vehicles to carry out surveillance programs often? Share your thoughts with us below!

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