Latest in Culture

Image credit:

Facebook warns inauguration protesters over police data hunt

Officers are trying to use social networks as evidence in rioting cases.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
February 7, 2017
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Protests on the day of President Trump's inauguration were mostly peaceful, but over 230 people were arrested on allegations of rioting... and law enforcement appears bent on scouring their internet profiles for evidence. CityLab has learned that Washington, DC police have been asking Facebook for user account information as part of their investigations. And in at least one case, Facebook warned one of the targets -- file a challenge to the data request or the company might have to comply within 10 days.

The police aren't commenting on their investigative approach, and Facebook adds that it doesn't comment on individual requests. With that said, Facebook's disclosure doesn't come out of the blue. Like other internet companies, it will notify users about law enforcement data requests when there isn't a gag order in place.

The bigger concern is the scope of the information officers want from Facebook, and whether they're above-board in handling data as a whole. If it's a subpoena or court order, police may get relatively basic info like the user's email or IP addresses from sign-ins. If there's a search warrant, though, they could get more detailed location info as well as posts and photos that aren't public. And that's assuming they're playing by the rules. CityLab understands that there has been activity on at least one phone after it was seized by police, suggesting that officers might have been hunting for information when the devices should have been tucked away in evidence bags. In that sense, the Facebook warning could be a sign of a far-reaching investigation that's pushing the limits of what's allowed.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

The Morning After: Amazon Echo (2020) review

The Morning After: Amazon Echo (2020) review

View
What we bought: Our favorite USB-C chargers

What we bought: Our favorite USB-C chargers

View
A massive spam attack is ruining public 'Among Us' games

A massive spam attack is ruining public 'Among Us' games

View
Custom PS5 covers are already a thing

Custom PS5 covers are already a thing

View
NASA works to secure the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample

NASA works to secure the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr