The E.F.F. Discloses How Social Media Sites Hand Your Data to Law Enforcement
The E.F.F (Electronic Frontier Federation) as part of its ongoing investigation into how law enforcement obtains and uses personal information, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding social networking. It requested that federal and state agencies alike provide a copy of requirements sent to them from the social media giants on How to Obtain Private Information for official Justice Department use.
The E.F.F has received guides from AOL, Facebook, eBay, Ning, Tagged and Craigslist. Nothing was received from Twitter, although Twitter does publish some of this information on its site. So its data has been included.
The collection of this data has allowed the E.F.F and Samuelson Law Technology and Public Policy Center (UC Berkeley) to make a comprehensive comparison chart in .pdf and .xls format of the different methods and criteria the aforementioned companies will release data.
The guides the E.F.F received are dated from 2005 - 2010 and accentuate the struggle and evolution of social media sites' policies regarding information and privacy.
In 2008 Facebook's guide, informed law enforcement what kind of data they are warehousing but no procedures on how law enforcement may obtain the records. Along comes 2009 Facebook’s guide that included procedures on how to acquire the information. 2010 Facebook simply states it will comply with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), as required by law.
MySpace has a policy on how long they hold private information, and distinguish the difference between public and private. What information requires a subpoena? It believes addresses, messages, and contact information require a subpoena in 2005.
In 2007, MySpace declared that it would hold requested private information for 180 days and extend that time frame at the request of law enforcement agencies on an as-needed basis.
MySpace took to helping law enforcement by starting its own "Sentinel Safe Program". A mass effort to match profiles to registered sex offenders, remove them, store them, and provide them to law enforcement officers who can provide them with the t's crossed an I's dotted legal format.Continued on the next page