EFF sues CIA, DOJ, others over Facebook surveillance

EFF sues CIA, DOJ, others over Facebook surveillance

Summary: The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued government agencies for allegedly refusing to release information about how they are using social networks in surveillance and investigations.

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the CIA, the US Department of Defense, Department of Justice and three other government agencies on Tuesday for allegedly refusing to release information about how they are using social networks in surveillance and investigations.

The not-for-profit internet rights watchdog group formally asked more than a dozen agencies or departments in early October to provide records about federal guidelines on the use of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr for investigative or data-gathering purposes, according to the lawsuit.

The requests were prompted by published news reports about how authorities are using social networks to monitor citizen activities and aid in investigations. For example, according to the lawsuit, government officials have: used Facebook to hunt for fugitives and search for evidence of underage drinking; researched the activities of an activist on Facebook and LinkedIn; watched YouTube to identify riot suspects; searched the home of a social worker because of Twitter messages regarding police actions he sent during the G-20 summit; and used fake identities to trick Facebook users into accepting friend requests.

For more, read "EFF sues feds for info on social-network surveillance" on CNET News.

Topics: Collaboration, Legal, Security, Social Enterprise

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20 comments
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  • Did Facebook sell users'information to them?[nt]

    nt
    Dealing
    • I would think not

      I don't think so because the government is not typically in the business of
      buying evidence. There are legal issues with that.

      Typically the government asks for it and
      the other party gives it over.

      People need to understand that facebook isn't just about you and your friends,
      it is about the entire Internet and whatever goes on there stays forever. Just
      because you put something there doesn't mean you can take it away!

      Once you GIVE to facebook an image or your text, you cannot take it back.
      lelandhendrix@...
  • Shouting on a street corner

    People need to get over the illusion of privacy and anonymity on the internet. Its always been an illusion. Posing your personal information on Facebook or other social networking sites is the digital equivalent of standing on a street corner and shouting it out to whomever is walking past.
    cornpie
    • But knowlege is power

      and also only half the battle!

      gnesterenko
    • It isn't an illusion

      Unless someone is actively tracing everything that
      you do on the internet.

      As to posting your personal information on
      Facebook? Yeah, stupid unless you ABSOLUTELY HAVE
      TO.
      Lerianis10
  • Is the EFF that stupid?

    "Oh No! they're reading my facebook page where I bragged that I lit my neighbors house on fire!
    They can't arrest me on that, can they?"

    How is that any different then walking down the street telling everyone you meet the same thing, and then having them go to the police?

    They're just cutting out the middle man, thats all.
    John Zern
    • EFF is just being proactive

      One of the EFF's goals is to raise awareness on privacy and consumer issues. Most people do not think critically, the EFF does a lot more good than harm, even if some of their actions initially make people wonder what's going on.
      DonRupertBitByte
      • ..and wasting gov money and time?!

        The gov should spend money on other things, not defending a pointless lawsuit over something the public would appear to support.
        jonesyx2
        • The public does NOT support this stuff

          Contrary to popular belief when it is put in
          terms that they can UNDERSTAND by the EFF and
          others.

          It's time to realize that the federal
          government, even under Obama, is stretching
          things way too far and using "TERRORISTS!" to
          justify illegal and immoral stuff way too much.

          We simply do not need to give up our rights to
          privacy in order to fight the terrorists.
          Lerianis10
          • Wake Up People

            I hate to be the one to rain on your parade, but you do not have RIGHTS TO PRIVACY when you log onto a PUBLIC DOMAIN.
            5LitreCat
          • Learn some Law

            Electronic Communications Privacy Act, people prefer their privacy and [i]will[/i] defend it. For a recent example of the ECPA in action, look at the class action lawsuit against Facebook's Beacon program.

            This is exactly in the same vein.
            computerjerms
  • wake up indeed

    What part of "public" forum do people not understand? If you put something up there anybody can look at it - you've given them permission! No right to complain if you don't like the results.
    ca1ic0cat
    • To: wake up indeed

      Contrary to perception, "Facebook" is not a public forum. You, the user, choose who can view your information. If there are those unscrupulous enough to use fake names and accounts to worm their way into your world... a partial shame on you for believing in total honesty and shame on them for using deception to get inside.
      kfortner51
    • That is not the problem

      You are correct in that there is no privacy in the internet. The problem is what the government is doing with the information. EFF is trying to get the goverment to state a policy that they use when looking at people's information. They want to find the point when the government stops being beneficial and becomes malignant. It is beneficial if the information is used to prevent or prosecute a crime but it is malignant if the information is used to persecute and harass people for doing things that are legal but the government doesn't like.

      It is one of the rights for the people to assemble peacefully. Social sites may be a new form of assembly.
      sboverie
      • And that's the whole point

        Which most everybody else in this thread has failed to grasp.
        Wintel BSOD
  • What Part of Freedom Do You Not Understand?

    Quote: "searched the home of a social worker because of Twitter messages regarding police actions he sent during the G-20 summit"

    If I read this correctly, someone snitched on the cops and they ransacked his house, (have you ever seen news video of a house after a police search? Ransack is the correct word). What happend to freedom of speech and civic reponsiblity? Is this freedom? Is this the sort of police state you wish to live in? Count me out.

    Quote: "and used fake identities to trick Facebook users into accepting friend requests."

    I fail to see any difference between this and a cop showing up at your door claiming to be an insurance salesman or Jehovah's Witness so he can get a peek inside your house. What part of "Get A Warrant" do these cops not understand? They have no evidence by which to obtain a warrant, so they go outside the law--they violate the very laws that would result in *your* prosecution if *you* did the very same thing--to snoop and see what they can find?

    This is Hitlerian. Monstrous. No sane person would find this in the least acceptable, excusable or tolerable.
    NathanBridger
  • People forget...

    People forget that the Internet grew out of the ARPAnet which was the DARPAnet.

    For those who don't remember, DARPA stands for "Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency" which is part of the US DoD.

    Being amazed, shocked, or outraged that government agencies can monitor a network created by a government agency is a lot like being outraged that your local Department of Santiation workers 'stole' all that trash you left in their can on the curb yesterday morning.

    Please understand - I'm not arguing for or against anything - I just try to not be naive about 'privacy' on the net.
    drkimca
  • RE: EFF sues CIA, DOJ, others over Facebook surveillance

    You put stuff on a world wide bulletin board and then think you can complain!!

    You allow complete strangers to become friends and see private info on your friends and your upset when in addition to con men you get government investigators on the prowl!!

    You open up your Facebook "everything" per Facebook SOP to use every single Facebook application (including those connected to those spreading the nastiest of computer viruses).

    EFF should sue Facebook first as it is NOT doing its job and only then sue the feds for occasionally doing some part of their job.

    [It is so seldom the FBI does the right parts of their job. FBI, please call me!!!]
    KinMapper
  • AWAKE: Facebook surreptitiously (to most) gives out your Facebook info!!

    You put stuff on a world wide bulletin board and then think you can complain!!

    You allow complete strangers to become friends and see private info on your friends and your upset when in addition to con men you get government investigators on the prowl!!

    You open up your Facebook "everything" per Facebook SOP to use every single Facebook application (including those connected to those spreading the nastiest of computer viruses).

    EFF should sue Facebook first as it is NOT doing its job and only then sue the feds for occasionally doing some part of their job.

    [It is so seldom the FBI does the right parts of their job. FBI, please call me!!!]
    KinMapper
  • RE: EFF sues CIA, DOJ, others over Facebook surveillance

    its about time EFF! wtf? wake up America. when is Google going to get sued for all of its privacy violations.
    spiritsurfer