Feds sued for withholding social network surveillance info

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an international non-profit organization that is dedicated to the preservation of civil liberties related to the use of the Internet and technology in general, has filed a suit against the CIA, the departments of Justice, Defense, Treasury and Homeland security, and the office of the Director of National Intelligence, for allegedly refusing to release information about their use of social networks as aids in investigations and as a means to conduct surveillance over individuals.

Cnet reports that the reason that prompted this suit is that the EFF has formally requested of all these agencies to provide – as it is stated in the lawsuit – information concerning the government’s use of social-networking websites for investigative and data gathering purposes to help inform Congress and the public about the effect of such uses and purposes on citizens’ privacy rights and associated legal protections.

Since there have been a lot of instances of such uses in the media lately (all detailed in the lawsuit), the issue has come to the forefront of public interest and raised important questions and concerns.

The EFF requested all records “about federal guidelines on the use of social-networking websites (including but not limited to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr and other online social media) for investigative (criminal or otherwise) or data gathering purposes created since January 2003.”

But, since none of the agencies complied with the request – except for the IRS, who asked for an extension on the deadline – the EFF decided to leave the matter in the hands of the law.

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