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Social Media a Threat To Undercover Cops 252

angry tapir writes "Facebook has proven to be one of the biggest dangers in keeping undercover police officers safe, due to applications such as facial recognition and photo tagging, according to an adjunct professor at ANU and Charles Sturt University. Mick Keelty, a former Australian Federal Police commissioner, told the audience at Security 2011 in Sydney that because of the convergence of a number of technologies undercover policing may be 'impossible' in the future."
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Social Media a Threat To Undercover Cops

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  • Re:Here's an idea. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nirvelli ( 851945 ) on Friday August 26, 2011 @06:17AM (#37217002)
    They already do. It is, however, a bit hard to get to. [latimes.com]
  • Re:Here's an idea. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday August 26, 2011 @07:41AM (#37217344)

    You needn't be part of Facebook to suddenly be profiled. All you need is a friend who's insensitive enough to tag you on their photo gallery.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 26, 2011 @09:41AM (#37218118)

    Gangs typically have membership hierarchies in place that are highly dependent on length of service. New members of the gang won't have anything to do with higher levels until they prove themselves through both time and criminal accomplishments. These measures make it near impossible for the gang to be infiltrated by police. The reason is that the police have to justify expenses and salaries beyond 10 years - with the risk of achieving nothing as a result. As if that wasn't hard enough - undercover officers cannot participate in all the criminal activities conducted by these gangs and thus are at great risk of ending up in a ditch with a bullet wound, or in the best case, not progressing through the ranks and thus achieving nothing.

    National Geographic had some interesting documentaries on the motorcycle gangs of America as part of their "Inside Outlaw Bikers" series. These documentaries are well worth hunting down if you're interested in a deeper understanding of what FBI undercover officers are up against with biker gangs. The documentaries cover:

    • "becoming the fabric" (from ethical and legal standpoints with respect to successful convictions)
    • the need to setup fake murder scenes to give the appearance of their undercover officers carrying out murders
    • psychological problems with their undercover officers getting stuck in a terrible long term lifestyle
    • the continuous pressure to achieve results in order to justify the long term and high risk investment in these operations

    As such, your STASI fears are grossly unfounded, possibly absurd. The reality of the situation is closer to the police not standing a chance against criminal gangs.

  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Friday August 26, 2011 @10:57AM (#37219020)

    Poor people tend to be more afraid of the police than anybody else. I don't know where you get your information, but "upper middle class white suburban" people are the most likely to support the police. Most people see any interaction with a police officer as a cause for concern, and this fear is based on previous interactions. The only upper middle class white suburban-ites that fear police are kids who are out getting into trouble. All poor people need fear them every day. In a lot of ways, police consider poverty as probable cause, and in any case, they know they can hassle poor people without fear of being sued, especially if they are illegal immigrants.

  • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld.gmail@com> on Friday August 26, 2011 @11:36AM (#37219562) Homepage
    I get my information from experience and observation. While upper middle class white suburban people may support the police in general, the subset that are slashdot posters tend to be anti-authoritarian but also have a lifelong experience of being insulated from crime. Poorer communities distrust the police, but they would not want them completely absent; since they are most at risk for being crime victims, they do want them there at some level.

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer