FBI = FaceBook Investigators… Who knew?

Your new "friend" on FaceBook might have ulterior motives...

Last week, an internal Justice Department document was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act by the Electronic Frontier Federation, a San Francisco based civil liberties group. The document outlines and makes clear how U.S. agents are following the social networking trend and using sites like FaceBook and MySpace in order to gather information in ongoing investigations.

The 33 page document goes on to stress the importance of using social networking sites to track suspects in those investigations to allow authorities to more easily check alibis or look for suspicious photos that may demonstrate an unusual spending spree after a crime. Analyzing evidence in this manner may allow agents to establish times and locations of suspects simply by looking through users’ uploaded photos.

It wasn’t that long ago that agents kept any eye on chat rooms such as AOL in an attempt to apprehend sexual predators but in this day and age, it’s much easier to analyze data like videos, pictures, or even audio clips posted via social networking sites to look for patterns of behavior. Already authorities have began using the information to track suspects’ whereabouts in order to apprehend them.

The documents, while detailing the worth of existing social networking sites in order to procure information from/on suspects, do not go into detail in regards to how to use the sites. And that is where the concern of the Electronic Frontier Federation lies.

Without guidelines in place, where does the line get drawn? Should agents be allowed to impersonate a parent, child, or sibling, for instance, in order to gain a suspect’s trust? How is evidence to be handled when the information may have been obtained through a chat session on FaceBook? How can it be determined that the information was indeed provided by the suspect and not from someone impersonating them?

These questions and more are being raised by the Federation in the hopes that the government will establish a set of rules in order to prevent potential abuse of the sites in investigations. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has stated that it will make the documents available on its website tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.

So be careful, wrongdoers. The next friend you add on MySpace might just be a federal agent.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Posted By Gritskrieg

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