Memo shows U.S. government snooping people's online lives, social networks
For two years, the feds have been spying on people's online profiles. That's according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has uncovered a documents from the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that instruct agents on how to make friends via the most-popular social networking sites. Their biggest weapon: The egos of people who post personal information online. As the documents state, "Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuels a need to have a large group of 'friends' link to their pages and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don't even know. This provides an excellent vantage point for [the Office of Fraud Detection and National Security] to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities."The Electronic Frontier Foundation says cyber snooping by the feds could lead to wrongful actions by agents because online profiles aren't always accurate.
But the feds assume that "generally, people on these sites speak honestly in their network because all of their friends and family are interacting with them via lM's (Instant Messages), Blogs (Weblog journals), etc." Looking at profiles "gives FDNS an opportunity to reveal fraud by browsing these sites to see if petitioners and beneficiaries are in a valid relationship or are attempting to deceive CIS about their relationship," according to the documents. "Once a user posts online, they create a public record and timeline of their activities. In essence, using MySpace and other like sites is akin to doing an unannounced cyber 'site-visit' on a petitioners and beneficiaries."