GeoComply Blocked Iowa Cops Investigating College Betting

Estimated read time 3 min read

Geolocation tech provider GeoComply cut off access to its software for Iowa’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) last month, The Des Moines Register reports. That’s after the company learned investigators were using the software to pry on athletes’ betting habits in University of Iowa dorms, according to court filings Tuesday.

Iowa State defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike, above, is among the college athletes whose rights were violated by the DCI, according to lawyers representing the accused. (Image: People)

The investigation led to charges against 25 athletes and student managers. These were largely for underage gambling and identity theft, because some players bet using accounts that belonged to other people, such as their mothers or girlfriends.

Now, lawyers for some of the players want evidence gathered using GeoComply’s Kibana software to be thrown out of court. That’s because it amounted to unconstitutional “warrantless searches.”

‘Warrantless Searches’

GeoComply technology allows online gambling operators to ensure they are only taking bets from users located within the borders of the state in which they’re licensed.

Presumably, the tech company initially agreed to share its technology with law enforcement because it can help tackle online crime, such as identity fraud and money laundering, through geolocation detection.

But according to a joint motion filed by attorneys for four of the defendants, “[i]t had come to [GeoComply’s] attention that DCI may have exceeded the intended outlined scope of its Kibana access-and-use privileges.”

In a previous filing, Van Plumb — who represents Iowa State defensive lineman Isaiah Lee and defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike — accused DCI agent Brian Sanger of employing AI technology to place a GeoFence around the students’ dorm. He did this without a warrant or “any tips, complaints, or evidence that underage gambling was occurring,” Plumb wrote.

Law enforcement officers must establish “probable cause” to obtain a search warrant if they want to avoid violating the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans against unreasonable searches.

‘Rights Violated’

Lawyers for the students also accuse the DCI of violating their clients’ Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. That’s because many were told, falsely, that they were not under criminal investigation when questioned by agents. They also failed to read them their Miranda rights.

The coercive conduct and promises of leniency by the officers make any statements made involuntary, against free will, and contrary to Defendant’s constitutional rights,” the lawyers wrote.

Last month, a DCI spokesperson defended the agency’s use of GeoComply software and the evidence it gathered through using it.

“The evidence was obtained in a constitutionally permissible manner,” the spokesperson said. “Ultimately, it is up to the courts to decide. We want to reassure Iowans that the Department always strives to scrupulously uphold the laws and constitutions of the United States and the State of Iowa.”

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