Cops Taking To Private Social Networks; Is There Enough Oversight?

from the rules-for-your-own-good dept

After spending a long time decrying social networks and media-sharing sites for helping to encourage crime, lots of police around the world are realizing that the sites can actually help them fight crime. Some have started posting details of crimes and suspects on popular sites, but some cops are going even further, and taking to private, crime-focused social networks to share information with other cops and investigators. It sounds like they’ve discovered some of the benefits that increased and easy information-sharing can generate, but there are a couple of areas for concern. First, it isn’t just police on these sites, they also include private companies like banks and retailers and security companies. Second, all of this info-sharing is unregulated — no subpoenas or warrants, or any sort of oversight or rules for transparency. It would seem there’s a lot of scope for abuse or for innocent people to be misidentified and mistreated, particularly by private companies on the systems. The rules governing police investigations and the protections they aim to give people exist for good reason; while police and other groups should be able to use technology to better do their jobs, they shouldn’t be able to use technology to circumvent regulations. Balancing these two aims will be a critical battleground for legislators, investigators and civil-rights groups moving forward.

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Comments on “Cops Taking To Private Social Networks; Is There Enough Oversight?”

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Rose M. Welch says:

That is a worry...

I manage a fine jewelry store and we’re signed up to receive fraud alert e-mails from our local police department. Several times a week, we receive e-mails with details of potential fraud, such as someone losing a wallet, bad checks coming up, or reports of fake cash running around. It’s pretty useful.

However, once the report came attached with copies of a girl’s old expired ID card with her SS as the number and her current driver’s license. She was up for writing checks on a closed account so it gave her bank info as well. I guess it wouldn’t have done much good to steal her identity but we were really shocked at the amount of personal info we had there.

We signed up for those e-mails online. It’s a list intended for local business, but no one every verified that we were a real business. Anyone could have signed up for them. Pretty crazy stuff, this intranets.

hegemon13 says:

Private companies are the problem

I am all for better communication between police departments, especially involving crimes or criminals that cross jurisdictional boundaries. However, it is a major problem when private companies have access to that information. I would think that would be illegal. A private company has to have permission to do a background check on me, so how is it legal for them to have unregulated access to crime history data?

Kamu says:

Re: Re:

“Law enforcement agencies should have unregulated communications between each other. The criminals don’t have to abide by any “regulations” and have always had a leg up because of that. May as well level the playing field. Private companies should absolutely NOT have access to it.”

Just don’t be the poor bastard who ends up on the wrong side of someone with access to these social networks. It could make life *very* difficult.

Julie says:

No expectation of privacy here

The simple fact….you have no expectation of privacy when you post on the WORLD WIDE WEB…Duh. All information here is public. I enjoy reading and seeing what criminals are doing (as a cop), so I can keep them from victimizing others. So, keep posting your crimes on the web for all to see, no warrant required, thank goodness, strike one up for the good guys.

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