The biggest social network of the world, Facebook is seeking assurances from the Drug Enforcement Administration. Apparently, Facebook isn’t very happy that the DEA is actually operating fake profiles and pages on the social network as a part of their ongoing investigations. Joe Sullivan, the chief security officer of the social network, sent a letter to Michele Leonhart, the DEA administrator on Friday, in which it was clearly stated that the same rules are applicable to law enforcement agencies regarding truthfulness as the ones imposed on civilian users. This also includes a ban on lying about your real identity.
This letter was sent by Sullivan as a response to a federal lawsuit filed by a woman in New York, who claimed that a fake online persona had been created by a DEA agent who was using her name and also the photographs that she had stored on her phone. Sondra Arquiett said that she had been arrested in 2010 on drug charges at which time her cellphone had also been seized. That’s when the photographs were retrieved from her device, as per the information mentioned in court filings. The woman had also said that Timothy Sinnigen, a DEA agent was using this fake page for interacting with and investigating ‘dangerous individuals’.
Her lawsuit is for $250,000 in damages for her privacy being invaded. Mr. Sullivan asserted in the letter that the social network had made it clear time and again that the policies also applied to all law enforcement authorities. Therefore, the conduct of the DEA was seen as a serious and known breach of the terms and policies of Facebook. The social network is seeking confirmation from the DEA that it has put a stop to all these activities and is no longer making any new fake profiles or using the old ones.
Brian Fallon, a spokesman of the Justice Department said that a full review had been launched into the incident that was at issue in this particular case. He said that the review was underway, but their knowledge showed that this wasn’t a common practice of the federal law enforcement agencies. Initially, the practice had been defended by the Justice Department through an argument made in the court filing in August. It said that even though Sinnigen hadn’t been directly authorized by Arquiett for making the fake account, she had consented implicitly when she granted access to the information stored in her phone and consented that the information be used in an ongoing criminal investigation.
Nonetheless, it was announced last week by the agency that it would consider if the Facebook guise could be thought of as taking it too far. According to the schedule, the case was supposed to go to trial in this week, but a check of the court records show that it has been actually sent to meditation. For the social networking giant, this could create a huge problem as consumers don’t want their privacy compromised and could complain about fake accounts made in their names.