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Facebook Government Social Networks United States

Facebook To DEA: Stop Using Phony Profiles To Nab Criminals 239

HughPickens.com writes: CNNMoney reports that Facebook has sent a letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration demanding that agents stop impersonating users on the social network. "The DEA's deceptive actions... threaten the integrity of our community," Facebook chief security officer Joe Sullivan wrote to DEA head Michele Leonhart. "Using Facebook to impersonate others abuses that trust and makes people feel less safe and secure when using our service." Facebook's letter comes on the heels of reports that the DEA impersonated a young woman on Facebook to communicate with suspected criminals, and the Department of Justice argued that they had the right to do so. Facebook contends that their terms and Community Standards — which the DEA agent had to acknowledge and agree to when registering for a Facebook account — expressly prohibit the creation and use of fake accounts. "Isn't this the definition of identity theft?" says privacy researcher Runa Sandvik. The DEA has declined to comment and referred all questions to the Justice Department, which has not returned CNNMoney's calls.
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Facebook To DEA: Stop Using Phony Profiles To Nab Criminals

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  • First (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Isnt impersonation a crime? Oh wait, I forgot the pigs are above the law.

  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @08:18AM (#48194221)

    ""Isn't this the definition of identity theft?""

    Nope. It's identity eminent domain.

    • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @08:22AM (#48194263) Journal

      Nope. It's identity eminent domain.

      Much in the same way regular theft by the government is called civil asset forfeiture...

      • by jthill ( 303417 )

        Erm, no.

        Theft, when conducted in person while carrying a firearm, is felony armed robbery. In every state in the union [wikipedia.org].

        It's hard to imagine being a police officer ordered to do this. Their choice is between facing homelessness and turning vicious, amoral thug.

    • Nope. It's identity eminent domain

      haha, only they might actually argue along those lines (no shame). They're also appropriating Facebook's computer resources to make these profiles operate - it's no different than seizing property or money on a small scale, and the 5th Amendment has something to say about that (n.b. I'm playing the game that the Constitution is still in effect, rather than used to paper over "trouble").

      Federated systems like Tonika [twit.tv] can provide authentication of friends - Facebook makes aut

  • Ermagherd! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @08:19AM (#48194227)
    Next thing you know, all of those hot 13 year old girls looking for a nice older guy in chat rooms will turn out to be the police
  • In related news. DEA to facebook: Who cares?

    • In related news. DEA to facebook: Who cares?

      Curious how the DEA would "care" had the very young children they also posted on the fake Facebook profile been targeted or killed by the very criminals they were attempting to lure in.

  • I would think that she would have a strong case against the DEA (or the agent(s) using her identity, because very few people will trust that she is who she says she is (online). They are very effectively destroying her status/reputation/life. I believe that the DEA actions are a crime, at multiple levels.

  • Facebook has no integrity. It's nothing but a data-mining operation that cons people into giving away their personal data for free.
  • threaten the integrity of our community,"

    Considering Facebook vacuums every tidbit of information about a person (name, location, sites they visit, friends, etc), I don't think claiming the integrity of your community is at stake when law enforcement uses it to catch criminals is the way to go, especially considering the numerous times Facebook has already been caught manipulating results or running secret tests on users.
  • TOS violations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @09:16AM (#48194611)
    The Justice Department prosecuted Aaron Schwarz for violating JSTOR's Terms of Service, so how about prosecuting the DEA agents who violated Facebook's?
    • Re:TOS violations (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @09:57AM (#48194943) Homepage

      Sadly, it doesn't work that way.

      In their view, they're allowed to break any law they need to to do their job. But if anybody else breaks any law, they can and will use that to achieve their goal.

      So, when Schwartz does it, they can trump up the charge to make something stick. When the DEA does it, it's business as usual.

      In other words, the law as applied to us little people is not the same as applied to law enforcement. Because they, in their minds, are above the law.

      Welcome to the dystopian future, where laws exist only at the whim of those who enforce it, and only apply to those who don't.

      Law enforcement is above the law. That they'll abuse it all they want is kind of inevitable.

      Which means you should assume that all forms of law enforcement will become completely corrupt and out of control -- like happens in every other banana republic in which the police decide what is legal.

    • Wait, you're saying that creating an account on Facebook with a fake identity is a crime???

      Excuse me a sec, I'll be right back, need to, uh, delete a few things......

  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @09:18AM (#48194621)

    I think this was unintentionally revealing. It's the feeling of safety and security that Facebook is frantic to defend. Actual safety and security? Well, that's... complicated.

    • by N1AK ( 864906 )
      I noticed the disconnect as well. I use Facebook and I still don't think what it needs is for people to be more blindly trusting on there. It's blind trust that leads to people following links to malicious sites etc.
  • The DEA assert that we live in a lawless land where they can do what they please, as long as it seems easy enough. Can log onto facebook, create a profile or steal someone else's, impersonate people, create fake people? The terms of use contracted to the Facebook business entity says you won't do that, but breach of contract is such an outdated ideal...
    • by Vokkyt ( 739289 )

      Except that's not what they're asserting. Law enforcement has been granted powers by the higher powers in the government to occasionally perform actions that would be considered illegal in order to resolve a larger crime. (e.g., impersonation, possession of drugs, possession of illegal firearms, purchasing illegal substances). The DEA's assertion is that this is merely an branch of those granted powers. You might not like that they have been granted the powers to do this, but that doesn't mean that they ".

  • Good times... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geogob ( 569250 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @09:41AM (#48194775)

    Facebook teaching ethics and rules to the DEA. That's a good one.
    Good luck with that anyway, Facebook! If there is any response at all from the DEA side, it will most likely a strong judicial mumbo jumbo meaning "STFU, or... " along a unilateral NDA (you know, because of "or ...")

    Maybe the best way to proceed if they do not comply would be to automatically put in parenthesis beside the account name a warning (This account may have been tempered with by authorities).

  • by Jodka ( 520060 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @09:45AM (#48194825)

    There is a fascinating and unexpected inversion here: Corporations are now standing up against government to protect the rights of citizens. Of course, most of us expect that relationship to work the other way around.

    It is not just Facebook. The first sentence of this article [rt.com] reads: "The FBI director has slammed Apple and Google for offering their customers encryption technology that protects users’ privacy."

    Today, a product which includes protection from the government has added value. A prediction: In the future, corporate protection from government intrusion and persecution will become the product. Smart corporations such as Tesla (see Nevada tax deal [rgj.com]) or Apple and Google (see double Irish Dutch sandwich [wikipedia.org]) have special rights or have exempted themselves from government rules by using loopholes. Meanwhile, every day there is news of the federal government becoming increasingly insane. Like today [washingtonpost.com]. Increasingly, the government is engaging in [washingtonpost.com] unethical, illegal activities such as theft. As demand from protection from the federal government increases with the growing abuses, corporations will meet that demand by sheltering customers under their own umbrellas.

    • by Tokolosh ( 1256448 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @10:35AM (#48195307)

      I have taken to quoting Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

      To declare that in the administration of criminal law the end justifies the means to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure conviction of a private criminal would bring terrible retribution.

      Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent.

      Our government... teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.

      The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.

  • considering the fact that facebook host pages for child traffickers and paedophiles, and will shut down pages exposing such crimes without so much as a cursory investigation when the paedos themselves make a complaint, is this a surprise? No, it's not.

    I think the DEA should get on with some other TLA departments and fucking shut facebook down.

  • Too Easy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by some old guy ( 674482 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:18AM (#48195779)

    I hate the DEA and the rest of the TLA's as much as the next guy, but unfortunately the intertwining of defense and law enforcement via "narco-terrorism" pretty much leaves Facebook and every other social network shit out of luck.

    One little NSL to Facebook to the effect of "We're doing a terrorism investigation, we need fake/impersonated accounts, and you will stfu about it" and it's game over.

  • Would the courts even accept "evidence" gathered in such a manner? Doesn't it constitute entrapment? Isn't that illegal?

    • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @11:53AM (#48196137)
      Technically, entrapment is only valid if the person being snared is knowingly, willingly, and recklessly participating in a criminal act. If it is the case of a mistake, i.e. wrong place wrong time, technically charges cannot be brought against the person. It has been ruled legal for police to use a bait car to catch auto thieves. The bait car simply makes it easy for someone looking to steal a car to go ahead and steal it. If the case had been someone running or fearing for their life and can reasonably prove that their intent was not criminal in nature but to get to safety, an argument for entrapment could be made.
      • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

        An affirmative defense in which a defendant alleges that police officers acquired the evidence necessary to commence a criminal prosecution of the defendant by inducing the defendant to engage in a criminal act which the defendant would not otherwise have committed. see, e.g. Jacobson v. United States, 503 U.S. 540(1992).

  • I have a friend who is a private eye who has a bunch of fake profiles and uses them to find the locations of people who are running out on their bills. If he's looking for the whereabouts of an older guy for example, he has a profile that is a 21 year old college girl - and he just friends whoever he's looking for and they usually almost always accept. Then these people tell their friends where they are going, private eye drops a gps tracking device on their car and "follows them home".

    Rule 1 - if you are r

  • "and the Department of Justice argued that they had the right to do so". People have rights, not governments. I thought the government existed to protect and enforce OUR rights, not the other way around. What they need to figure out is a way to convince us that they have a "duty" to do so in order to protect our rights.
    • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

      "State Versus..." Who do you think represents the State? That's right, Government.

      An individual or collective body cannot represent or be represented in a court of Law unless they have legal personality (in the case of a collective, such representation in the form of a board of Directors or other leadership structure speaking for the Whole Person, either through themselves via public statement or in the case of a legal affair, through lawyers). Thus, the concept of corporate Personhood and the further conce

  • "Facebook. Where men are men, women are men, and 14-year-old girls are FBI agents."

    Nah, it doesn't have the same ring to it...

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