A freelance journalist who infiltrated an international national police convention last week has reported that law enforcement officials say they are working with security officers at Facebook’s corporate headquarters to block certain users from the site permanently if those users are found to be using Facebook to promote their criminal activity.
Facebook and other social media have served essential roles in organizaing anti-government protests such as the Arab Spring movement in the Middle East. Civil liberties advocates are now worried that the police-Facebook cooperation could be used to stifle political dissent and shut down protest demonstrations before they begin here in the United States.
“A senior police officer from the Chicago PD told a panel on Monday that his department was working with Facebook’s security chief to block users from the site by account (person), IP, and device (he did not say if by UUID or MAC address or other means of hardware ID) if it is determined they have posted what is deemed criminal content,” reported journalist Kenneth Lipp on his personal blog.
Lipp gained entrance to the 120th annual meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, where he heard the discussion of how cops can shut down social media. The event took place inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center Exhibit Hall in Philadelphia.
Lipp posted a video of a brief segment of the address to YouTube. In the video, Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum Chuck Wexler is heard saying, “we all know all that information can be culled from either a VIPN number or a PIN number from a phone. It’s all documented, they can actually lock it if they want to.”
The video can be viewed below. A slide from the social media panel presentation is pictured above.
At a panel on law enforcement use of social media platforms, it was revealed that, “95.9 % of law enforcement agencies use social media, 86.1 % for investigative purposes,” Lipp reported.
The revelations have civil libertarians concerned.
“At this rate, with the NSA snooping through all our personal correspondence, and the police and social media in cahoots to eliminate the right to assemble, all that will be left of the First Amendment is a memento from the pre-Internet era,” wrote Natasha Hakimi of the left-wing news site, Truthdig.
SOURCES: Kenneth Lipp (2), Truthdig, YouTube