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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The feds go undercover online

Facebook

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the federal government to get a DOJ document showing that law-enforcement agents are using social-networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace to catch criminals. Sometimes, it's pretty straightforward -- the agents will check the times of posts to see if they correspond with alibis. Or the suspects will share photos of themselves posing with stolen goods, etc.

Agents will also create fake profiles and use them to "friend" suspects. Or they'll reach out to suspects' friends, family, etc. Which isn't too different from real life, but experts say there should be boundaries. And they raise a question ...

The Justice Department document raises a legal question about a social-media bullying case in which U.S. prosecutors charged a Missouri woman with computer fraud for creating a fake MySpace accounteffectively the same activity that undercover agents are doing, although for different purposes.

Hat Tip: Many thanks, Keith G in PV!

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

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