SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, CIA and Justice Department are using Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and other social-networking sites to spy on people, and a watchdog group wants to know how far the snooping has gone and what the rules are. But the Electronic Frontier Foundation says the government has blown off its FOIA requests.
In its federal FOIA complaint, the group says that though the federal government may use such sites to collect information “for laughable reasons,” it has not explained the extent of its spying or “disclosed if any restrictions and oversight is in place to prevent abuse.”
The complaint cites numerous instances of government spying, from a fugitive tracked by investigators through his Facebook account, to the case of Elliot Madison, a social worker whose Twitter messages to protesters during the G-20 summit led to an FBI search of his house.
The Foundation says the defendant agencies blew off its FOIA requests for explanations of how social networking sites are used in criminal investigations.
It asks the court to order the agencies – including the Treasury Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence – to produce the records.
Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Marcia Hofmann was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
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