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Selected Editorials from the Editor

Suns & Shields Christian Inspirational Writings by Rachelle Hamlin

Selected editorials from Dr. Katherine Albrecht, Ed. D.



Government Creating Fake Facebook Pages From Confiscated Photos


By: David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, January 7, 2015


WATERTOWN, New York—Sondra Arquiett, formerly known as Sondra Prince, recently discovered that a DEA agent created a fake Facebook account using her identity, posted pictures of her on the page, some of which were a bit provocative, and then used it to try communicating with suspected criminals. The agents then deluded themselves into thinking it was all perfectly legal.

   Arquiett had been convicted on drug charges and sentenced to probation, and law enforcement believed she still had ties to others involved in a drug ring, which is what they used as justification for this massively pervasive and disgusting violation of privacy.

   After finding out about the fake account, Arquiett sued DEA Agent Timothy Sinnigen, the agent who created the profile, but the court, and government, responded with the hostility and disregard inherent in all authoritarian police States.

   In the court filing, a U.S. attorney acknowledges that, unbeknownst to Arquiett, Agent Sinnigen, from the DEA, created the fake Facebook account, posed as her, posted photos, sent a friend request to a fugitive, accepted other friend requests, and used the account “for a legitimate law enforcement purpose.”

   The government’s response lays out an argument justifying Sinnigen’s actions: “Defendants admit that Plaintiff did not give express permission for the use of photographs contained on her phone on an undercover Facebook page, but state the Plaintiff implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cell phone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in an ongoing criminal investigations [sic].”

   In other words, since Arquiett gave law enforcement permission to snoop through information on her phone, they believe that gives them the right to take that information and use it to create a fake Facebook page using her name and likeness without her consent.

   Privacy experts say that doesn’t fly.   “I may allow someone to come into my home and search,” said Allen, of the University of Pennsylvania, “but that doesn’t mean they can take the photos from my coffee table and post them online.”

   “That’s a dangerous expansion of the idea of consent, particularly given the amount of information on people’s cell phones,” said Elizabeth Joh, a professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Law.

   "Many in the government are trying to say this isn’t any different than a police officer going undercover. They’re wrong," said Michael Cantrell, in an article posted on "When law enforcement goes undercover, they create an entire fictional persona, they do not hijack a real person’s identity to catch criminals. Once again the government is justifying taking actions that violate a person’s right to privacy in the name of 'safety.' This is becoming a disturbing trend, and it should spook Americans into paying more attention to the kind of information they put out on social media and who has access to it."

   "It’s also imperative in a world where the government uses any excuse it can come up with to gain access to your private information to be well educated on the Fourth Amendment to avoid accidentally waiving your rights. Otherwise the next fake account might be your own."

   This type of behavior is most disturbing. At the very least, the government has violated its own copyright laws by using copyrighted pictures without the owner’s explicit permission, despite their mealy-mouthed portrayal of her “implicit”/unwitting consent.  The government – with this line of thinking – can now create a bogus Facebook page, unbeknownst to an unwitting person, then post a bunch of incriminating information on it, then take them into court on bogus charges and convict them for something they didn’t do on information from a Facebook page they created that wasn’t the person's to begin with. This is the type of scenario they are now setting up with this legal precedent.

   The United States is now rapidly moving into a world where its own police and government bureaucrats are worse, and more dangerous, than the criminals they have been hired to protect people from.







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