Slapdash Facebook settings lead to arrests

Summary:Police forces are monitoring social networks to harvest evidence on crimes, and use undercover officers to interact with people on Facebook, according to a senior police officer.Police have gathered evidence on murder, theft, burglary, fraud, arson, and sex crimes through people not applying privacy settings on Facebook, ACPO e-crime prevention lead and deputy chief constable Stuart Hyde told the Counter Terror Expo on Thursday.

Police forces are monitoring social networks to harvest evidence on crimes, and use undercover officers to interact with people on Facebook, according to a senior police officer.

Police have gathered evidence on murder, theft, burglary, fraud, arson, and sex crimes through people not applying privacy settings on Facebook, ACPO e-crime prevention lead and deputy chief constable Stuart Hyde told the Counter Terror Expo on Thursday.

"If your Facebook is open and you allow people to come in — tough, we will do it," said Hyde. Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), the police can monitor open social networks without authorisation, said Hyde. To join a particular network, and then to start interacting with people, requires authorisation from a police authority or commissioner.

Hyde said that last year a group of people had tried to organise a rave in Cumbria through Facebook, but that they had been "pretty slapdash about who they invited" online. One of the people who was invited was a police officer, and when people turned up for the rave, the police were there.

Hyde said that Cumbria had not had to have RIPA authorisation to monitor the preparations for the rave.

"All we were doing was listening and watching," Hyde told ZDNet UK, who added that RIPA authorisations have been granted for undercover police to use Facebook.

"All aspects of RIPA have been used," said Hyde. "RIPA is there to protect people's privacy. We don't want a police state. Those engaging in monitoring were doing it properly."

Topics: Security

About

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.