When you go online, your personal data is being mined. Your name, search history, location, the words you type and the images you post are all being scanned and collected.
Curiously, those doing the most to defend privacy rights in the U.S. may be the corporations doing the scanning and collecting. Apple and Google, for instance, have angered law enforcement by saying they will make it easy for users to encrypt cellphone data. Hardware companies are creating hard drives that self-destruct if you send a text message.
A BuzzFeed article brings us the curious tale of Sondra Arquiett, who, in 2010, used the name Sondra Prince and did not have a Facebook page until a DEA agent made one for her using pictures taken from her seized cellphone.
Prince knew nothing about the Facebook page until a friend asked her why she was posting sexy pictures online.
In a court filing, the U.S. Justice Department says federal agents have the right to impersonate Arquiett online without her knowledge and use the images to facilitate communication with suspected criminals.
Arquiett's phone was seized while under federal investigation for being part of her boyfriend's drug ring. She was eventually sentenced to probation. While she was awaiting trial, DEA agent Timothy Sinnigen used images from her seized phone to set up the Facebook page and communicate with suspected criminals.
Monday, the Facebook page was open to the public, but Facebook shut it down after being contacted by BuzzFeed. "Claiming to be another person, creating a false presence for an organization, or creating multiple accounts undermines community and violates Facebook’s terms," said Facebook.
The U.S. government alleges that Arquiett, by consenting to allow her phone to be searched, also gave the DEA the right to use her images in ongoing criminal investigations.
One legal expert calls the government's position a "dangerous expansion of the idea of consent."
Arquiett is suing the U.S. and the DEA agent that created the fake profile.
Her attorney says Arquiett "never intended for any of the pictures on her phone to be displayed publicly, let alone on Facebook ... More disturbing than the fact that the DEA Agents posted a picture of her in her underwear and bra is the fact that the DEA agents posted a picture of her young son and young niece in connection with that Facebook account, which the DEA agents later claim was used for legitimate law enforcement purposes, that is, to have contact with individuals involved in narcotics distribution."
It's often difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys.
More news discovered in my afternoon jog around the Internet:
- Adobe collecting data from users
- Ebola may spread through the air, say some experts
- Scientists create underwater breathing crystals
- ISIS graffiti in D.C.
- NY cops caught on video hitting teen
- North Korea now run by dictator's little sister?
- Strongest storm of year to hit Japan
- Man says he was fired after epic Comcast rant
- Berry said to remove cancers in 75 percent of cases