Monday, March 22, 2010

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

<--Amazing to see IRS cited as setting a good example. Nicely done!

Deeplink by Marcia Hofmann

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 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.

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