San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), working with the Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Samuelson Clinic), filed suit today against a half-dozen government agencies for refusing to disclose their policies for using social networking sites for investigations, data-collection, and surveillance.
Recent news reports have publicized the government's use of social networking data as evidence in various investigations, and Congress is currently considering several pieces of legislation that may increase protections for consumers who use social-networking websites and other online tools. In response, the Samuelson Clinic made over a dozen Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests on behalf of EFF to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies, asking for information about how the government collects and uses this sensitive information.
"Millions of people use social networking sites like Facebook every day, disclosing lots of information about their private lives," said James Tucker, a student working with EFF through the Samuelson Clinic. "As Congress debates new privacy laws covering sites like Facebook, lawmakers and voters alike need to know how the government is already using this data and what is at stake."
When several agencies did not respond to the FOIA requests, the Samuelson Clinic filed suit on behalf of EFF. The lawsuit demands immediate processing and release of all records concerning policies for the use of social networking sites in government investigations.
"Internet users deserve to know what information is collected, under what circumstances, and who has access to it," said Shane Witnov, a law student also working on the case. "These agencies need to abide by the law and release their records on social networking surveillance."
For the full complaint:
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic