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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 3:05am

    So there I was in this hallway. right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Rose M. Welch, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 3:09am

    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.

     

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  3.  
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    hegemon13, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 6:04am

    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?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 6:39am

    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.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 6:44am

    Re: Private companies are the problem

    Yea, public security and public policing should not be done by PRIVATE companies (that are almost always for-profit). But then, I think contractors are a risky thing for much government work (mostly because of loose regs).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Kamu, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 6:47am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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    Overcast, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 7:23am

    Just yet another good reason to avoid the social networks - hell, I got enough people bothering me all the time - the last thing I need is more people wanting more of my time online.

     

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  8.  
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    Julie, Mar 15th, 2009 @ 7:43am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2012 @ 12:05am

    Www.bangole 100% love.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2012 @ 12:08am

    Www.bangole 100% love.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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