Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Social Networks United States Your Rights Online

EFF Wants To Know If the Feds Are Cyberstalking 135

Posted by samzenpus
from the answer-seems-obvious dept.
rossendryv writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation and UC Berkeley's Samuelson Center filed suit in California's Northern District, asking the court to force a number of government agencies to hand over any documents they have concerning the use of social networking sites as part of investigative procedures."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EFF Wants To Know If the Feds Are Cyberstalking

Comments Filter:
  • Uh oh (Score:2, Funny)

    I just poked Osama Bin Laden on his wall.
  • Mafia wars (Score:5, Funny)

    by tnk1 (899206) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @07:15PM (#30305640)

    "The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York has announced a RICO case has been filed against all players of the game Mafia Wars. It is clear that these are hardened criminals who not only kill without remorse, but share their results on social networking sites. The US Attorney's Office thanks the social networking site Facebook for their cooperation in bringing these mobsters to justice."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Buelldozer (713671)

      While he's at it he should sue Zynga for gross criminal negligence and crimes against programming!

    • by HuckleCom (690630)
      With my Crockett hat with awesome defense I'm sure they'll look past me.
    • Believe me, It'll go nowhere [guardian.co.uk]

      Help us, IRS! You're our only hope

    • by PReDiToR (687141)
      Is Mafia Wars one of those annoying applications that comes up every five seconds if you know more than three morons?

      I started running FB Purity [bit.ly]* and now I don't get to see all those games and things any more.

      *Requires Greasemonkey
      I'm not affiliated with Greasemonkey or FB Purity
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thinboy00 (1190815)

      Out of idle curiosity, is it safe to click that link, or will doing so get the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc following me? I'd just like to know so that when the feds show up I'll know what to say.

  • Why wouldn't they? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @07:19PM (#30305674)

    Why wouldn't the feds do this? It would be irresponsible of them to *NOT* look at social networking sites for illegal activities. I'm not saying that there's a treasure trove of information there, but come on, this isn't private data we're talking about here. If the FBI or CIA ir CSIS or NSA or ABC is looking for info on me, they should at the very least be putting "Beardo the Bearded" into Google and following the links.

    If someone is putting things up in public for anyone to see then I can't see any problems with a government agency looking over these records. I'm all for privacy, but once you put it up in public, good luck, Mrs. Streisand.

    • by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @07:24PM (#30305738)

      I completely agree with this. I see this as no different from "the Feds" looking at your webpage to see what you post there, or your "personal" blog.

      If you want to put personal information on the web for "the public" to see, I don't see how you think "the Feds" can't look at it ... just like everyone else.

      • by icannotthinkofaname (1480543) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:02PM (#30306972) Journal

        I see this as no different from "the Feds" looking at your webpage to see what you post there, or your "personal" blog.

        You're joking, right? I'm pretty sure it's very different, if I set facebook to let only my friends see my stuff. I never saw a friend request from the FBI, so why should they be allowed to probe my facebook stuff? That seems like a digital analogue to the feds just storming someone's house without first getting the owner's permission to enter the home.

        In other words, they better have a darn good reason and a written warrant with that reason if they want to see my facebook without first being my facebook friend.

        If you want to put personal information on the web for "the public" to see, I don't see how you think "the Feds" can't look at it ... just like everyone else.

        And if I set up my settings such that only certain people have explicit permission to view such information, then it ain't exactly "for the public to see", is it?

        • by some_guy_88 (1306769) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:39PM (#30307204) Homepage

          Why is this modded troll? He has a good point. The difference between your public webpage and your facebook page is that only your friends are meant to be able to see your facebook page whereas your webpage is on the public web for anyone.

          • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @11:18PM (#30307434) Journal

            True. Now we have the question about "friends."

            I submit a request to be your Facebook friend as "CuteBlonde362436" and you accept, thinking that I might be a cute blonde with measurements 36-24-36. At this point, I have access to your information including the fact that you like to molest small woodland creatures. Of course, I'm neither cute, blonde, nor do I have those measurements. However, I am part of an FBI task force charged with protecting small woodland creatures from molestation and the reason I approached you on Facebook is due to an anonymous tip that said you were into that sort of thing.

            I now have all the evidence I need to have you locked up for a very long time.

            Entrapment?

            • by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @11:42PM (#30307544)

              I submit a request to be your Facebook friend as "CuteBlonde362436" and you accept, thinking that I might be a cute blonde with measurements 36-24-36. At this point, I have access to your information including the fact that you like to molest small woodland creatures. Of course, I'm neither cute, blonde, nor do I have those measurements. However, I am part of an FBI task force charged with protecting small woodland creatures from molestation and the reason I approached you on Facebook is due to an anonymous tip that said you were into that sort of thing. I now have all the evidence I need to have you locked up for a very long time. Entrapment?

              No. Entrapment would be if "CuteBlonde362436"* _enticed_ him to molest small woodland creatures and then arrested him for such. BTW, the government is probably everyone's friend on facebook. Private fraud investigators apparently are. * (who would be a disabled account anyway, since fake names aren't allowed)

            • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Entrapment?

              Beats me, but you are in clear violation of the Facebook terms of service you signed. I hope they kick your account.

            • Are you suggesting that there is something wrong with molesting small woodland creatures? But they look so cute, I just can't help myself. And they like it too. Especially that Mr.Fox
            • by vegiVamp (518171)
              Cops aren't allowed to lie about their identity, are they ?
              • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @05:56AM (#30308900)
                They are. They're just not allowed to entice you into breaking the law in order to arrest you.

                All those lines of "I'm not a cop!" in the movies are for the benefit of idiots who think that by saying they're not police officers that they can admit / do anything in their presence. Bear in mind that citizens have powers of arrest, too.

                They should properly identify themselves at the time of arrest, though. All police officers carry identification.
            • by Paradigma11 (645246) <Paradigma11@hotmail.com> on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:01AM (#30308920)

              True. Now we have the question about "friends."

              I submit a request to be your Facebook friend as "CuteBlonde362436" and you accept, thinking that I might be a cute blonde with measurements 36-24-36. At this point, I have access to your information including the fact that you like to molest small woodland creatures. Of course, I'm neither cute, blonde, nor do I have those measurements. However, I am part of an FBI task force charged with protecting small woodland creatures from molestation and the reason I approached you on Facebook is due to an anonymous tip that said you were into that sort of thing.

              I now have all the evidence I need to have you locked up for a very long time.

              Entrapment?

              Why would he want a cute blond when he is into small woodland creatures :)

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Why is this modded troll?

            Because an idiot had mod points. However, it's now a +5 so the idiot wasted his mod points, being outvoted by more intelligent moderators.

        • by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Thursday December 03, 2009 @12:35AM (#30307776)

          You're joking, right? I'm pretty sure it's very different, if I set facebook to let only my friends see my stuff. I never saw a friend request from the FBI, so why should they be allowed to probe my facebook stuff? That seems like a digital analogue to the feds just storming someone's house without first getting the owner's permission to enter the home.

          In other words, they better have a darn good reason and a written warrant with that reason if they want to see my facebook without first being my facebook friend.

          On any site, even if it's marked "private", once it's posted, it's public. Those privacy settings are probably a lot shallower than you think, and "friends only" can include a lot more. For example, didn't some group release a quiz that revealed that it not only had access to your complete profile, but the profiles of your friends?

          And what about that Manulife case where an insurance recipient was denied after posting pics to their "private" profile?

          Truth is, your profile may be marked as private, but it may be more public than you expect. All it would take is someone finding a vulnerability in facebook that unlocks private pfofiles. Or just do a quiz or app that one of your friends do that'll scrape your profile. Or maybe one of your friends is a friend of the FBI and is re-posting your pics?

          "Private" means zip. It may imply that only your friends can see stuff in your profile, but it's effectively public.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            For example, didn't some group release a quiz that revealed that it not only had access to your complete profile, but the profiles of your friends?

            That was a while ago, wasn't it? I don't do apps/quizzes/etc that often, but IIRC, such things explicitly warn you in a dialog that you must confirm that it will pull info from your profile and from your friends. My guess would be that it's using the permissions of your account, since your account is the one that explicitly allowed the information-ripping. Because you can see all of your own profile and all of your friends' profiles, it makes sense that the quiz would have all that info, too.

            And what about that Manulife case where an insurance recipient was denied after posting pics to their "private" profile?

            Oh yeah. I

            • by durdur (252098)

              You're implying that facebook's privacy settings don't work as they are described

              Possibly, but I took the parent poster to mean that you should assume they don't or won't work as described.

              Lots of people use the net for sensitive transactions and store private information on it. But a lot of caution is advised. If you're thinking of putting any potentially embarrassing or incriminating material on a public site and relying on site security to shield it, better think about what could happen if it's not really shielded.

        • Seeing as, since the 9/11 crap, the feds declared they own all data stored on any server in the U.S. they don't exactly need to be your "friend" to read your data. Same goes for your e-mail, IM's, or anything else including online banking if they feel it's necessary to an investigation. While I know the above is true because of where I work, I also know it's true that they simply don't have the staff to read every single message, so while it may get abused once in a while, it isn't like they're reading ever

          • While your post is a bit off the wall, you are falling into a trap.

            Do NOT rely on the fact that limited manpower is somehow a justification for a breach of your rights. In other words, just because something is not possible now, doesn't mean that we should grant them the power to do it.

            It's the same problem whenever someone asks for powers to be 'future-proof'. That term is simply an excuse for 'We don't have the public support or justification for that power, but don't worry we can't physically do it.
            .
            .
            .

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:38PM (#30307196)
        If you want to put personal information on the web for "the public" to see, I don't see how you think "the Feds" can't look at it ... just like everyone else.

        Well, if you use a name that isn't yours on a web site, you can be prosecuted for hacking (see the case of the woman that got a myspace account just to harrass a child into suicide), so if the feds access your account without friending you under the name "FBI_Narc21" then they broke hacking laws, right? Shouldn't they have to follow the laws everyone else does? If not, they need a warrant.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I had a facebook account, but I regained my privacy by killing everyone on my friends list, the closing the account.
      Shit was so cash.

    • by zmaragdus (1686342) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @07:25PM (#30305744)

      Many companies also perform such searches whilst screening potential employees. They often get junior (junior as in position, not necessarily age) employees to befriend said candidates in order to dig up any "dirt" they can on you. (Hence a warning to those of you looking for a job: beware what you post online.) The feds would be foolish not to do so as well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Hence a warning to those of you looking for a job: beware what you post online

        Or in newspapers, magazines, bridges, overpasses...

        I would have thought this would be common-sense. If you want to keep something private, don't tell everyone about it :)

        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Hybrid-brain (1478551)
          I imagine that they might want to be keeping an eye out as well for those who might be involved in trying to lure underage children as well.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Mikkeles (698461)

          If you want to keep something private, don't tell ANYone about it

          Emphasised that for you ;^)

        • Or in newspapers, magazines, bridges, overpasses...

          And echo in the wells of Silence.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Onthax (1322089)
      But dont i have a resonable expectation of privacy for my facebook it is not publicly searchable, only certain people on my friends list (Access Control List) can see the information i share this would make it more like an email communication medium, not a public information source?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Meshach (578918)

        But dont i have a resonable expectation of privacy for my facebook it is not publicly searchable, only certain people on my friends list (Access Control List) can see the information i share this would make it more like an email communication medium, not a public information source?

        It may not be publicly searchable but I do not think that alone guarantees you it will remain private. If it is requested in certain ways it will be revealed.

      • by Runaway1956 (1322357) * on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:12PM (#30307016) Homepage Journal

        If the feds want to know about you, they can talk to your friends, and ask questions. They can talk to your business associates, and ask question. They can question your mom, dad, sisters, cousins, etc. If they get enough trash on you, they can get a warrant to search your house, your car, your home, computer, and your person. If they think your friends or family has good dirty evidence, they can get warrants to search THEIR homes, cars, persons.

        So. Given all of that - just exactly how much privacy is expected with an online social networking thing? Far less privacy than your home, for which a warrant is required before searching it. Maybe - just maybe - a little more privacy than a conversation with a job associate, for which no warrant is required before talking to him. Considerably less privacy than a conversation with your spouse, for which no warrant is required before speaking to him/her.

        I really do think that SOME DEGREE of privacy is appropriate for Facebook, etc. But, the question is, "How private should Facebook be?"

        Obviously, those pages that are publicly accessible to any bot, any viewer, are most definitely NOT private. If you've set your page so that it is publicly viewable, by all means, any law enforcement agent in the world can look at it, and use the data. But, if you set all your pages with maximum privacy and security, then maybe the cop should be required to get a warrant before gaining access.

        I can't really decide where a social networking account sits in the scale of privacy. I can't agree that they should all be off-limits to the law, nor can I agree that the law should be able to peruse everything ever put onto any page either. Much depends on those privacy and security settings.

        Bottom line, though - if you have something that you DO NOT want the law to find out about you, DO NOT put it online!! Don't tell your job associate, don't tell your best friend, don't tell your drinking buddy, don't tell the busybody across the street, and DON'T PUT IT ONLINE!!! If more than one person shares a secret, it is no longer a secret.

    • by NoYob (1630681) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @08:14PM (#30306224)
      If you go for a security clearance, they search all you social networking pages and everyone who you are "friends" with. It's a real pain for them but they have to do it.

      So, if you have a friend on Facebook who had to get security clearance, you were investigated.

      • by fotoguzzi (230256)
        So, if you have a friend on Facebook who had to get security clearance, you were investigated.

        And my ~1.7 million slashdot buddies, too?
      • So, if you have a friend on Facebook who had to get security clearance, you were investigated.

        I have over 100 friends on facebook.

        My clearance investigation took 2 months. Do you really think that they investigate everyone 'friended' in facebook?

        My closest friends don't even have Facebook accounts. For them to investigate EVERYONE you friended on facebook, they are really wasting their resources and demonstrating a complete misunderstanding of what Facebook is.

        And 100 friends on facebook is very few. I

    • by b4upoo (166390)

      Anyone who thinks that any law enforcement agency will hand over any information at all concerning ongoing investigations is living on Fantasy Island. Even letting criminals know that an investigation of them is not in progress is not going to happen. In other words courts may do as they may but this law suit has severe limitations.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by number11 (129686)

        Anyone who thinks that any law enforcement agency will hand over any information at all concerning ongoing investigations is living on Fantasy Island.

        This is true. Likewise anyone who thinks that any law enforcement agency can be counted on to obey the law.

    • by Eil (82413) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @08:57PM (#30306526) Homepage Journal

      Well, there is still a problem. I can't speak for any of the other social networking sites, but Facebook in particular puts fairly strong emphasis on the concept of publishing information publicly (viewable by anyone) versus publishing information privately (viewable only by "friends", ostensibly). 90% of their users don't grok the concept that putting anything online at all by definition means that the information they post is now beyond their control. Sure, their terms of service say that they can do this but the public has been trained by corporations to not take such contracts seriously, let alone read them.

      Sites like Facebook should not be allowed to use the word "private," because their definition of the word actually means, "viewable by your friends, every Facebook employee, law enforcement and investigative agencies, and other undisclosed entities that we sell, lease, or give your information to."

      I'm not saying Facebook is doing anything illegal or underhanded, nor am I saying that users shouldn't be bound to the contracts that they agree to no matter how small the print. Just that Facebook and most other online services are seriously misrepresenting their use of the word "private."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AHuxley (892839)
      http://wikileaks.org/wiki/EU_social_network_spy_system_brief%2C_INDECT_Work_Package_4%2C_2009 [wikileaks.org]
      They get you, the words/terms/jargon you use, your friends and friends of friends.
      Then they track you all and sort your interests.
      When you have something real to do, never do it online ;)
    • I tend to agree with you here, trying to imagine being a gov. operative, you use everything you can to catch the bad guy.
      If we need to know who is a terrorist, and we know all the cell's current operatives have a facebook account and are all linked, they can send messages, images etc. quickly through facebook without detection.

      This is like better then regular email, or even hotmail, as any friend can pop up and poke you or leave you a message to let them join as friend, and within that message could be the

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      You're FOR the police using fishing expeditions? That use to be considered very unamerican. Don't investigate me unless you have reason to believe that I've committed a crime!

      If some slashdotter were to call the FBI because of my journals, telling them tales of drugs and prostitution, I hardly think that what may or may not be fiction (some have tried to guess, some have said they don't want to know) should lead to an investigation. [sj-r.com]

      Even photos or movies of what appears to be criminal activity. Ever see a Ch

      • That you don't have a problem with marijuana use -- and I'm sure you're familiar with the kinds of people who are supplying the stuff to the US at present -- does not make your argument very convincing. Facebook is public space (one of the reasons I don't have an account on it); I see no reason to object to fishing expeditions there.

        And I'd like to know why Cheech and Chong were never arrested after they confessed in a public forum to use of marijuana. Lack of will to enforce (and, as necessary, to reform a

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          That you don't have a problem with marijuana use -- and I'm sure you're familiar with the kinds of people who are supplying the stuff to the US at present -- does not make your argument very convincing.

          The types of people who supplied alcohol during prohibition didn't make arguments for its legalization convincing, either. The marijuana doesn't cause the problems, the laws against it do. The same goes for prostitution and gambling laws.

          And I'd like to know why Cheech and Chong were never arrested after they

      • Well, no, it looks like they are using the public info to check up on people whom they are already investigating. If they're just fishing, then they simply have no decency.

        If it's on your public profile, that's akin to leaving stuff on your front lawn. Anyone can drive up and take a picture. If you're loading weed onto a truck in broad daylight in a residential neighbourhood, don't be shocked if your neighbours call the police.

        Likewise, if you've left a photo of yourself with, say, a flatbed of marijuana an

  • by Ransak (548582) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @07:28PM (#30305790) Homepage Journal
    The summary is misleading. The suit is more about what the Feds are doing with that data and the policies surrounding it, not that the Feds are using social networking sites for investigations.
  • If you read TFA, you'll notice that in general the EFF doesn't have a problem with these types of practices. It's just FOI requests are getting stalled/ignored.
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @07:43PM (#30305914)
    Are the Feds watching Facebook and other social networking sites? Did the STASI [wikipedia.org] keep tabs on East German citizens? I find it amusing to see people, especially those who are naïve about the way the world works, shocked that intelligence agencies might actually monitor information which they so graciously posted for all the world to see (gasp). Perhaps now they will receive a first hand lesson in why some of us consciously refuse to participate in social networking sites.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Frosty Piss (770223)

      Perhaps now they will receive a first hand lesson in why some of us consciously refuse to participate in social networking sites.

      I understand, some people don't liked to be watched (even though they have posted the info on the Intertubes for anyone to see). But I don't particularly care. I'm a bleeding heart liberal, and have been associated with many fringe Web sites by virtue of the comments section or forums. On the other hand, I've done nothing illegal, and as a DoD employee, have held a security clearence for over 20 years. Got nuthin' to hide, don't really care if the Three Letter Agencies read my Facebook.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        On the other hand, I've done nothing illegal, and as a DoD employee, have held a security clearence for over 20 years.

        Few things there:

        1) If you get an aggressive investigator, he could make it unpleasant for you on your next re-investigation if you're foolish enough to tie your fringe group views tied to your actual identity. Assuming your Daddy's family name wasn't "Piss", I'll guess you're OK there.

        2) Their level of interest of you depends on the clearance level. For instance, my cell carrier proba

        • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @09:45PM (#30306854)

          If you get an aggressive investigator...

          Already had some of those. They are more interested in my step brother and sisters from Etheopia, and whether I've visited any of several countries. But it really doesn't matter. There are reasons they can dink with my clearance, and reasons they can't. It's not up to the particular investigator's personal views, nor some nebulous undefined rule set. I'm quite sure that they are well able to connect my Slashdot profile with a real name... I undergo one of these mini-inquisitions every two years, and my views are not inconsistent with Democracy. Apparently, they consider me a "patriot", whatever that is... I am not paranoid.

          • Is that when the government considers someone for security clearance they are NOT interested in most of your life. They really don't care about who you are, what you believe and so on... Except as it applies to your likelihood to divulge classified information. So they don't care if you are gay, really doesn't matter to them. They'd only care if you are gay, but in the closet, and deeply afraid of being outed. Then perhaps someone could use it to coerce you in to divulging classified information. Likewise t

        • by AHuxley (892839) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:09PM (#30307010) Homepage Journal
          DoD, DIA ect are the areas of the US gov that actually *work*.
          They stand on buildings around anti war protesters and film everything they can zoom in on.
          They record all car plates in the area too.
          If your too bright, articulate, photogenic or charming, they can always stick a cute 20 something on you with more 'direct ideas'.
          Your group will then waste years doing useless busy work or be on domestic terrorism charges.
          They then just drift back into the protest movements.
          Every so often you get a peek of low level police work.
          http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/08/23/police-montebello.html [www.cbc.ca]
          ... "one reason protesters knew the men's true identities was because they were wearing the same boots as other police officers."
      • by cenc (1310167)

        You will when they use your facebook profile to seed a brute force of that encrypted porno collection in your home directory.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Frosty Piss (770223)
          All of my tentical porn involves females over 18. I guess they could Photoshop me into some of those "sticky" situations...
      • by r7 (409657) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @09:50PM (#30306886)

        people don't liked to be watched (even though they have posted the info on the Intertubes for anyone to see). But I don't particularly care. I'm a bleeding heart liberal

        If you care more about yourself than the greater good then you are, by definition, not a liberal, bleeding heart or otherwise.

        With regards to the greater good, the reason citizens place limits on government investigation is because those investigative powers have been so frequently abused. Richard Nixon's Watergate, Joseph McCarthy's inquisitions and media blacklists, network television firing of the most popular entertainers (Smother's Brothers) for speaking out against Vietnam... the list is a long one, and anyone who does not care is either ignorant, liberatarian, or an anarchist.

        • liberatarian, or an anarchist.

          Excuse me, but wouldn't libertarians (who by definition claim individual liberty as the highest ideal) and anarchists (who believe in no government whatsoever) be among the last people to argue for more government power over individuals? Do not confuse the libertarians with the neoconservatives, as some here on Slashdot have been known to do; we are not one in the same.

          • I imagine that the distinction between neoconservative and libertarian is one that requires a bit more nuance than the average American is capable of. Especially given that the previous US president went around claiming to be a small-government, libertarian-leaning conservative and then instead presided over the utter destruction of the free market and tried his damndest to institute every globalist police-state wet-dream the neoconservatives ever had. I have confused the two myself.

            Neoconservatives are b

      • by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:37PM (#30307186)
        The problem with "nothing to hide", as Bruce Schneier has noted on his blog [schneier.com], is that is based upon the fallacious assumption that there is no threat to privacy unless the government uncovers unlawful activity. Now, you say that you are an honest citizen and I believe you, but here is the problem: the laws, as they exist today, are so complex and convoluted that it is practically impossible for ordinary Americans to live their everyday lives without breaking at least some of them. This is a common tool used by many governments, not just the United States, to maintain power over individual citizens. The implicit threat is that any one of us could be selected for "special attention" or "selective enforcement" at any time if the government (or some faction within the government) decides that it doesn't like us or that we are "troublemakers". In light of this truth, what do I gain from making it easier for the government to profile and watch me? You might argue that my efforts to remain anonymous, or at least pseudo-anonymous are futile and perhaps they are, but that doesn't mean that I am going to hand them my privacy on a silver platter.
    • by Jeian (409916)

      If you have your privacy settings set correctly, and the site in question has an adequate privacy policy, they're not going to see anything (like the fact that you even are a member of the site) anyway without a court order.

    • by cenc (1310167)

      Is this any different than the police patrolling your neighborhood, and looking for a wanted suspect, and keeping a record on his family, friends, and other activities related to the person they are trying to catch? Not really.

      The line would likely be crossed if they are just doing drag nets about peoples online to find out if they are doing anything illegal.

    • by Taur0 (1634625)

      Perhaps now they will receive a first hand lesson in why some of us consciously refuse to participate in social networking sites.

      As opposed to refusing while being unconscious? :P

    • by Snatch422 (896695)
      The CIA has plenty of covert operatives working at Facebook. They use it not just for stalking against targeted individuals, spies in training, and practice/research but also by having subtle features that can be used for subconscious suggestion. Facebook is infiltrated by the feds and people are just naive (as is Google). That does not stop me from having a Facebook account though - I simply use my account to play my own psy ops right back at them and expose all their idiotic and horrendous secrets. Yo
    • There's something vaguely satisfying in knowing the feds are forced to watch thousands of idiots' progress at Farmville. Job satisfaction must be at an all time low.

  • prove it! (Score:2, Informative)

    by anarking (34854)

    there was a story recently of police busting someone for underage drinking based on facebook pictures. the problem with arresting someone based not on catching them doing an illegal act, but by heresay or pictures... is that how can it be proven?! "that was apple juice" "i was being facetious" shouldn't those be the only needs of defense against such allegations, true or not? this is the inherant flaw i see in this policing method.

    • Re:prove it! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Urza9814 (883915) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @09:30PM (#30306780)

      Yea, I know exactly what case you're talking about. Got an email from SSDP about it.

      But really that case was just a problem of the kid being stupid. Yes, the cops picked him up for a picture, but the kid then admitted to underage drinking. He didn't even try to fight it. I mean if he had tried to fight it and still gotten charged, then there would be a problem. But if you're a 19 year old kid walking down the street with a bottle in a paper bag and a cop stops you and says 'is that alcohol?' and you say 'yes'....Or if you pull over someone driving the same make and model as a car recently reported stolen, and you ask them if it's stolen and they say yes...well, it's hard to say the cop did anything wrong. And you can hardly call the arrest unreasonable (and therefore a violation of the 4th amendment) when the kid was holding a beer can. If it was a red solo cup or something, sure. But it was a beer can. It was a container that specifically stated that it contained alcohol.

      Of course if you want to question police officers posing as attractive young females (as they did in this case)...then yea, you could make a case for that. But then again, they go undercover all the time, and this isn't really any different.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      No flaw, In the UK, do too much gang related 'stuff' on web 2.0 sites and you might get a wake up at 6 am.
      All part of community policing. You front door will be removed and home walked over by many men and woman in full protective gear.
      You will get a friendly chat about your lifestyle and they walk out.
      "we know what your post, who your friends are and your address, stop now..."
      Bureaucratic warrants will be great for that kind of soft policing.
  • by geekmux (1040042) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @07:55PM (#30306052)

    ....my wife woke up and found weird crop circles in Farmville. She swears she didn't plant them that way.

  • Let's Go Fishing! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    One of the key features of social networking is that you display certain types of data to the world or to user-defined groups. You do this at your own risk and you are either expressly or implicitly consenting to the display of the data to your selected viewers. The article was fairly vague on what exactly the EFF is after. Smells too much like a fishing expedition unless there is something they know or strongly suspect that we don't.

    What would be more interesting is if either: (a) the feds were circumven

  • The issue isn't with, say, getting into facebook and checking out all your stupid farmville posts / drunken photos or etc, the issue is more on the privileged access side of things. Start thinking along the lines of your social graph and the back end of these sites and you have the gist of the real privacy issue here.

    How many times you've viewed a certain profile, the times of day you access the system, the timeline of your creation and deletion of connections with other people, the correlation of your mood

  • by fotbr (855184) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @08:41PM (#30306408) Journal

    Really.

    Chances are, no one in government cares about you, or your drunken antics posted on facespace. If they did, well, you put it out in public, so quit complaining when they read it.

    Take the tin foil off. You're not that interesting outside your little circle of friends.

    • by nozendo (1656053) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @09:10PM (#30306624)

      Look further though. You're essentially a part of a neural style network here. You might be dull as a box of hankies but a professional associate, a relative, even at N degrees of separation - you're providing additional information against that person. It's not _you_ or even your N+1 or N+2 relations, its your overall participation in the mesh of interactions.

      In a very simple case you can be a part of a border analysis against another person. Your professional activities, your actions, combined with a group of people that encapsulate (via common connections) another individual or a subset of individuals is extremely valuable for analysis.

      This boggles me that we have a group of what I can assume are intelligent professionals here that can't see past the most elementary, low level application of information research / analysis. I've done incredibly effective analysis against individuals with a handful of public domain information, none of which was _direct_ content of theirs, let alone what I could do with access to the entire facebook back end.

    • by nozendo (1656053) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @09:21PM (#30306706)

      To try and demonstrate this:

      Person X on facebook has a private profile enabled but have allowed for their friends to be visible.

      Say 80% of their friends have public profiles on facebook. You'd then go through the process of mapping percentages for:

      - Their hometown
      - employment
      - common venues
      - level of facebook activity
      - interests, hobbies
      - participation in local events, clubs, universities etc

      Repeat for a couple of iterations down the friends of friends chain and guaranteed you could learn a massive amount about the individual regardless of profile status (eg, their employment, lifestyle, hobbies, timetable etc).

      Scale this up to properly managed automated engines for the task and multiple data sources and there's not much you couldn't pinpoint about an individual, even if for example they didn't use facebook but had a majority of associated who did. Replace facebook with anything, perhaps linked in because of its more "professional" sales pitch. FB is just an easy example.

    • > no one in government cares about you, or your drunken antics posted on facespace

      Unless you are considered a political enemy by someone in power. (as some allege happened with Eliot Spitzer) We should not empower government, and whichever political animals control it at a given time, with the ability to selectively enforce the law. That ability is stupendously magnified by the capacity to do a massive, exhaustive search of who commits "crime."

      Thus, government would be more just if it arrests every

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Chances are, no one in government cares about you, or your drunken antics posted on facespace. If they did, well, you put it out in public, so quit complaining when they read it.

      Hard to say. Maybe you've got a friend, one of whose friends had connections (e.g. worked closely) with a terrorist. You might not know that. I do know that, which is why I'm posting as A.C.

      Of course, half the stuff on my facebook page is bogus, anyhow. The people who have reason to know, know which half, mostly.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      You're not that interesting outside your little [slashdot.org] circle of friends.

      Yes [slashdot.org] I [slashdot.org] am. [slashdot.org]

  • Doesn't everyone stalk other people on Facebook? Come on, let me see a show of hands...
    Come on, don't be shy...
    *crickets*
  • by vvaduva (859950) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @09:26PM (#30306738)

    What the heck is "cyberstalking?" Doesn't wholesale wiretapping of both voice and data include this cyberstalking notion? EFF already sued over the patriot act and Obama's administration has made it even worse [boingboing.net] than before. Not even Bush kept email lists of their political enemies (as far as we know), so the question is moot.

  • like what they did to indymedia?

    • What did they do to IndyMedia? Are you talking about when they tried to subpoena the IP addresses of contributors to one of the nodes, or something else?
  • Yes they are (Score:2, Insightful)

    by davidwr (791652)

    Next question.

  • Get a grip (Score:4, Funny)

    by daveime (1253762) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @01:08AM (#30307900)

    Look, the guy is holed up in a cave with a couple of goats in the middle of Nowhere, Pakistan (And still the US can't find him, but that's another lol). He has to send a runner with a cassette tape 500km to the Al Jazeera office every time he has a new fatwa to issue.

    It's not like he's going to be updating his Facebook status very often.

    Osama has updated his profile : Today I feel like crushing infidels.
    Fahid commented on Osama's post : lol habibi.
    Ahmed likes this.
    Mohammad pokes Osama.
    Osama has been busy in the kitchen and has cooked too many Kung Pao Chicken. Help him out on Cafe World.
    Osama has been downgraded to level 1 in Habbo Hotel, because he keeps blowing up his buildings (sorry, it slipped out).

    As for the rest of the world, the signal to noise ratio is just too great for the Feebs to glean anything useful. Christ, I only have family and a few close friends on my FB, but the amount of drivel they post is unreal.

    I'm on the bus going to town.
    I'm at town.
    I saw blah blah in town.
    Where ?
    At the coffee shop.
    I nearly said hello, but thought I'd tweet you instead.
    and so on, and so on ...

  • Investigative style (Score:3, Informative)

    by realsilly (186931) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @08:02AM (#30309346)

    Social Networking sites are the type of tool that the govt. agencies have wanted for years now. It helps them with their investigations into cells of criminal activity. Consider how say the mob works. Vinny the Boss, hires Joe Schmo to do his job but uses cash at a drop zone. Well Joe has to have had some way of knowing to take the job from Vinny. So a Social networking site like application help piece Vinny and Joe to the same coffee shop that they frequent. Now think of the limitless potential power of investigation that can be performed. All legal, the info is public, so no warrants are necessary, the cells of criminals are oblivious as to how they are nabbed.

  • Of Osama Bin Laden getting bufu'ed by Liberace probably got me flagged. Ah well, it was worth it....

CCI Power 6/40: one board, a megabyte of cache, and an attitude...

Working...