Facebook Inc (NASDAQ FB) is mad at the United States Drug Enforcement Administration for creating fake accounts to catch drug offenders. The social media giant sent a formal complaint to the DEA. Facebook recently sent a letter to the DEA asking them to stop impersonating users.
The letter comes from Joe Sullivan (Facebook’s security chief officer) and it was addressed to DEA’s administrator Michele Leonhart. His letter relates to the story where the DEA impersonated a woman and created a fake Facebook account in her name after seizing her phone.
Sondra Arquiett was unaware at the time the DEA impersonated her while speaking to her close friends. Arquiett subsequently filed a lawsuit against the DEA agent who set up the fake account. The justice department claims the accused agent did nothing wrong and that federal agents have the right to do these things.
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Fortunately for Arquiett, Facebook is on her side. Joe Sullivan’s letter explained, “The DEA’s deceptive actions… threaten the integrity of our community. Using Facebook to impersonate others abuses that trust and makes people feel less safe and secure when using our service.”
The letter further states Facebook shut down the fake account but it also demanded the DEA confirm if all other fake accounts were shuttered. The DEA refused to comment on the matter and sends all inquiries to the Justice Department. Back in 2010, Arquiett was arrested and charged for distributing cocaine. She then pled guilty and was given probation. According to legal filings, Arquiett implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored on her phone and consented access to it for investigation.
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In Facebook’s letter to the DEA, the company said it was troubled by that legal position. One privacy researcher for Freedom of the Press Foundation, Runa Sandvik, said there is a big difference between striking a deal to become an informant but it is another thing to lose control of your identity.
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