The New York Police Department has issued rules for using social media during investigations, and critics say the guidelines raise questions about privacy issues, reports the New York Daily News. A memo from Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly says officers involved in probes involving social media may register their aliases with the department and use a department-issued laptop whose Internet-access card can't be traced back to the department.
Trolling the Internet can give police a tipoff to an imminent threat or give cops a leg up if they are conducting undercover work that requires deception, such as posing online as a teen to nab a rapist. Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union said police work on the Internet is ripe for abuse. “Electronic undercover work is fine,” Dunn said. “But we worry about the ease with the police can use deceit on the Internet to monitor private communications. Police infiltration of social media should be closely regulated.” Jethro Eisenstein, a lawyer whose 1971 lawsuit lead to the Handschu Guidelines, a consent decree that governs how police investigate political activity, said using aliases violates those guidelines. “If there is no criminal predicate the Handschu rules permit certain kind of trolling — looking around on the web,” he said. “But that trolling is limited to the rules of what the public can do.”