New Rules Issued for NYPD Social Media Aliases

New Rules Issued for NYPD Social Media Aliases

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly issued a five-page memo—the first of its kind in New York— outlining how undercover officers may use social media in pursuing investigations.

The memo outlines the rules for officers involved in probes. Specifically when an officer is using social media, he or she may register their aliases directly with the NYPD and then use an Internet access card issued by the department which cannot be traced back to the NYPD. The rules also say officers can use subpoenas, court orders, and search warrants to obtain certain electronic evidence.

But how closely should police infiltration for probes be regulated? And should undercover police officers be allowed to have undercover digital aliases as well?

Bradley Shear, a Washington DC lawyer, says that if “a potential suspect refuses to provide access to an undercover officer via turning down a Facebook Friend request or by changing his privacy settings, the NYPD should then be required to follow the proper legal channels to obtain access to the password protected digital content.” Shear stresses that there needs to be an appropriate balance between the needs of law enforcement officials and privacy rights.

Many police departments across the country, including the NYPD, are using technology platforms like CompStat to organize and manage social media interaction. Especially now with officers using social media aliases, law enforcement officials may need to find a better solution to utilize technology without infringing on privacy rights.

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