Lawsuit Demands Answers About Social-Networking Surveillance

Government Agencies Withholding Information on Data-Gathering from Facebook, Twitter, and Other Online Communities

[] 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:…


Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Shane Witnov
Law student
Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic