Facebook under fire for Immigration and Customs Enforcement data controversy

It’s the latest controversy surrounding the privacy of a Facebook user’s data: a report surfaced on Monday that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, officials have used Facebook data to find and track its suspects.

A frenzy of strong reactions took to the internet. Many Facebook users themselves expressed their outrage on the social media platform.

According to the report by online news publication The Intercept, in February and March 2017, several ICE agents obtained backend Facebook data about a suspect in a Facebook business record — including information on when and where the account was accessed, as well as the suspect’s phone number.

In a media statement, ICE said that they have the ability to seek subpoenas, warrants, and court orders to legally compel a company to provide information that may assist in an investigation.

“Due to law-enforcement sensitivities, we’re not going to comment on investigative techniques or tactics other than to say that during the course of a criminal investigation, we have the ability to seek subpoenas, warrants and court orders to legally compel a company to provide information that may assist in case completion and subsequent prosecution. That is an established procedure that is consistent with all other law enforcement agencies. Additionally, investigators can use open-source information that is readily available on various social-media platforms during the course of an investigation.”

They went on to say that investigators can use open source information that is readily available on various social media platforms.

For Facebook’s part, it said in a statement, “Our records show that ICE sent valid legal process to us in an investigation said to involve an active child predator.”

According to Facebook, it responded to ICE’s valid request with publicly available data, and that there were no immigration law violations in connection with ICE’s data request.

 

Fil-Am Facebook user Sierra Jamir said the developments are making her wary of her own Facebook usage.

 

“There’s alot of things that we have online and are personal to us, and it may force me to go on Facebook less often, but overall I dont feel comfortable with the idea of anyone really having access to some things that are personal to me,” said Jamir.

 

In Facebook’s transparency report, from January to June of 2017, the social media platform received more than 32,000 law enforcement requests for data.

Facebook provided some sort of data for 85 percent of those requests– a majority of which they were legally prohibited from notifying the affected users.

“There’s a lot of ways that we communicate through Facebook, and I don’t want that to be squashed because of our mistrust with the internet.”

It’s not the only data controversy Facebook is taking a beating for.

The social media giant continues to come under fire, after a recent controversy surrounding the information of 50 million of its users that was obtained by Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm used by the Trump campaign in 2016.

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