20 Oct 2014

Facebook tells DEA: Stop impersonating users

Facebook has sent a letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration demanding that agents stop impersonating users on the social network.

The letter follows a BuzzFeed report that revealed how the DEA seized a woman's phone and later created a Facebook account in her name.

Sondra Arquiett was unaware as the DEA masqueraded as her while speaking to her friends. The DEA even posted photos of her with her son and another photo of her alone in panties and a bra.
She has sued the DEA agent who set up the account. The Justice Department is backing him up, claiming federal agents have the right to do such things.

Now Arquiett has Facebook (FB, Tech30) on her side.

"The DEA's deceptive actions... threaten the integrity of our community," Facebook chief security officer Joe Sullivan wrote to DEA head Michele Leonhart. "Using Facebook to impersonate others abuses that trust and makes people feel less safe and secure when using our service."
The letter goes on to say that Facebook shut down the DEA's fake Arquiett account. It also demands that the DEA confirm it stopped all other cases of impersonation.  

The DEA declined to comment and referred all questions to the Justice Department, which has not returned CNNMoney's callsHow did the DEA end up with this woman's phone? In 2010, Arquiett was arrested and faced charges related to cocaine distribution. She pled guilty and received probation.In legal filings, a federal prosecutor said Arquiett "implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cell phone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in an ongoing criminal investigations [sic]."

But in its letter, Facebook said it is "deeply troubled" by that legal position.

Privacy researcher Runa Sandvik, who advises the Freedom of the Press Foundation, explained it this way: It's one thing to strike a deal and become an informant. It's another to lose complete control of your online identity.

"Isn't this the definition of identity theft?" Sandvik asked.

This is only the latest case in which the technology firm comes head-to-head with the federal government on civil liberties issues.

Read More:http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/20/technology/security/facebook-dea/


  1. ben franklin [pre death]21 October 2014 at 03:48

    Oh please. The US governmental agencies are the number one purveyor of data from Facebook. This is just a publicity move on Facebook's part as more and more people become wary of social network surveillance. They're throwing a bone to the growing numbers of concerned. "No, we don't condone that. We don't sell info to gov't agencies... don't leave Facebook!" But the truth is, the DEA should be the least of the public's worries when it comes to gov't agencies using social media to spy.

  2. This is another reason to use a fake Facebook profile. The government's position is that it can do absolutely anything it wants to continue it's war on the populace. I'm waiting for the bully's line of "what are you going to do about it?"