Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Feds on Facebook

The concept of social surveillance as it is practiced on Twitter takes on a new significance when law enforcement becomes involved. "When tweets can make you a jailbird" describes how a fraudulent businessman on the lam in Mexico was caught by his own disclosures on the popular microblogging site.

Law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, even going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that surfaced in a lawsuit.

The document shows that U.S. agents are logging on surreptitiously to exchange messages with suspects, identify a target's friends or relatives and browse private information such as postings, personal photographs and video clips.

Among the purposes: Investigators can check suspects' alibis by comparing stories told to police with tweets sent at the same time about their whereabouts. Online photos from a suspicious spending spree — people posing with jewelry, guns or fancy cars — can link suspects or their friends to crime.

Apparently the Electronic Frontier Foundation obtained this 300+ page document, which described current law enforcement practices.

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