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<nettime> Law Enforcement Collection of Data From Social Media Sites
nettime's avid reader on Wed, 17 Mar 2010 11:54:55 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Law Enforcement Collection of Data From Social Media Sites

EFF Posts Documents Detailing Law Enforcement Collection of Data From 
Social Media Sites 

Deeplink by Marcia Hofmann 
March 16th, 2010 

EFF has posted documents shedding light on how law enforcement
agencies use social networking sites to gather information in
investigations. The records, obtained from the Internal Revenue
Service and Department of Justice Criminal Division, are the first
in a series of documents that will be released through a Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) case that EFF filed with the help of the UC
Berkeley Samuelson Clinic.

One of the most interesting files is a 2009 training course [1]
that describes how IRS employees may use various Internet tools
-- including social networking sites and Google Street View -- to
investigate taxpayers. The IRS should be commended for its detailed
training that clearly prohibits employees from using deception or
fake social networking accounts to obtain information. Its policies
generally limit employees to using publicly available information.
The good example set by the IRS is in stark contrast to the U.S.
Marshalls and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Neither organization found any documents on social networking
sites in response to EFF's request suggesting they do not have any
written policies or restrictions upon the use of these websites.
The documents released by the IRS also include excerpts from the
Internal Revenue Manual explaining that employees aren't allowed
to use government computers to access social networking sites for
personal communication, and cautioning them to be careful to avoid
any appearance that they're speaking on behalf of the IRS when making
personal use of social media.

The Justice Department released a presentation entitled "Obtaining and
Using Evidence from Social Networking Sites." [2] The slides, which
were prepared by two lawyers from the agency's Computer Crime and
Intellectual Property Section, detail several social media companies'
data retention practices and responses to law enforcement requests.
The presentation notes that Facebook was "often cooperative with
emergency requests" while complaining about Twitter's short data
retention policies and refusal to preserve data without legal process.
The presentation also touches on use of social media for undercover

Over the next few months, EFF will be getting more documents from     
several law enforcement and intelligence agencies concerning their    
use of social networking sites for investigative purposes. We'll post 
those files here as they arrive.                                      

[1] http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/social_network/training_course.pdf
[2] http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/social_network/20100303__crim_social

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