A controversial search warrant issued to Edina police to collect personal information on anyone who searched a resident's name on Google yielded only one record, according to the tech company.
The warrant, which surfaced in March, was seen at the time by internet privacy advocates as "breathtakingly broad" and setting a troubling precedent on how law agencies could obtain private information.
Google issued a statement Friday via e-mail: "We objected to the warrant and significantly narrowed its scope to the point that only one record was produced. We were pleased to resolve this in a way that preserves our users' privacy."
Neither Google nor Edina officials explained how the search was specified or what information was turned over to police. As of Friday, no arrest had been made in the case, Edina spokeswoman Jennifer Bennerotte said, but she declined to comment on the investigation.
William McGeveran, a law professor at the University of Minnesota, said Google's pushback addressed the central issue.
"Google, by working to narrow it down and focus it, was responding to what was really objectionable," he said. "[The warrant] was asking for a broad swath of people's searches that was overly inclusive."
But McGeveran said he is concerned that issuing similar warrants could become a common practice. "I'm still worried about what would happen next time," he said. "Will another judge do this in the future?"
He added that other search engines may not fight as hard to protect personal information. Google initially declined to honor a subpoena to provide the same information to Edina.
Edina Detective David Lindman filed the warrant request to locate the person who attempted to steal $28,500 from an Edina resident through credit fraud. Hennepin County District Judge Gary Larson issued the warrant in early February.
The warrant asked Google to provide Edina police with Social Security numbers, account and payment information, and IP (internet protocol) and MAC (media access control) addresses for anyone who searched the resident's name on the search engine from Dec. 1, 2016 through Jan. 7.
Technology website Ars Technica called the Edina warrant "perhaps the most expansive one we've seen unconnected to the U.S. national security apparatus." Internet law experts questioned its ability to withstand constitutional scrutiny.
Assistant County Attorney Thad Tudor asked on Thursday to seal the warrant until the investigation was complete, according to documents. If the warrant were made public, he said, it could interfere with the search "or severely hamper an ongoing investigation."
Google contacted Lindman on April 27 to say the results from the search warrant were available, according to court documents. The information was taken in as evidence.
According to Google's website, it often works with the agency issuing a search warrant to narrow the request and provide only the relevant information.