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The problem with a police officer's identity being displayed on these networks is that it can compromise a covert operation and ultimately the safety of the officers involved

Facebook has alarmed several users and regulators with some of its features, such as facial recognition technology, due to privacy issues. Now, Australian police officers worry that social networking sites with features such as photo tagging could place them in danger.

Mick Keelty, a former Australian Federal Police (AFP) commissioner, says he's concerned that a police officer's identity being placed on the Internet through social networking could pose a threat to their safety.

At a recent conference in Sydney, Australia called Security 2011, Keelty mentioned that he is engaging in research associated with the policy implications of social networking for undercover operations by police officers.

One of his most recent studies was conducted with the New South Wales (NSW) police between December 2010 and February 2011.

"We surveyed them to try and measure the extent of exposure they already had in having their photos uploaded to the Internet," said Keelty. "The results found that 90 percent of female officers were using social media compared with 81 percent of males."

Facebook was the most popular social network, and Twitter took second place.

The problem with a police officer's identity being displayed on these networks is that it can compromise a covert operation and ultimately the safety of the officers involved.

"You can't just immerse an officer into a crime group; it takes up to seven years to get them into the right place [in the gang] where they can feed back the intelligence that you need," said Keelty. "Then there is the cost of doing that such as when the AFP targets motorcycle gangs or when governments across the world have entered into agreements to place critical witnesses in prosecution matters in different parts of the world to hide them."

Keelty further explained that 16-year-old's who have Facebook's now and want to be police officers when they're older are at risk because these photos have already been exposed. Even if they're taken down or removed by Facebook (which, Facebook only started allowing after Google+ started removing photos for those requesting it), there's still the chance of that person's friends or family posting pictures of them. Photo tagging and facial recognition technology only make the matter worse.

"It's too late [for them to take it down] because once it's uploaded, it's there forever," said Keelty. "If you have someone in the service who is trying to remain anonymous for whatever reason, it is still possible through other relationships to find them."

According to Keelty's survey, 85 percent of participants had photos of themselves uploaded by other people.

The survey results will be considered in future policy guidelines for police agencies.

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By Uncle on 8/27/2011 12:18:56 PM , Rating: 2
Why is it always a foreign country that come out with some rational reasons not to have certain features in software such as facebook. Its the same old line"lets get the product out and we'll deal with the ramifications after. With the police state that is forming in the US, you would think that someone with "Intelligence" could see this coming.

RE: Tagging
By drycrust3 on 8/27/2011 1:50:43 PM , Rating: 2
Part of the problem here is that people want to make problems before they develop. As far as I know, Facebook doesn't use reverse image search engine technology, such as TinEye uses, so this is all "a storm in a teacup" as far as Facebook is concerned. That said, TinEye has been on the internet for quite a while now, so anyone could have used that. Are they going to ban that too?
The other problem here is that a lot of people are on the internet, so when someone turns up who doesn't have an internet presence, or the presence doesn't have any historical depth, then that sort of begs the question as to why.

RE: Tagging
By icemansims on 8/27/2011 2:59:26 PM , Rating: 2
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

RE: Tagging
By FaceMaster on 8/27/11, Rating: -1
RE: Tagging
By Salisme on 8/27/2011 9:05:33 PM , Rating: 5
Essential liberty? Since when was using face book essential?

I've had a job that for the past 5 years had forbid me from using social networking sites such as facebook/linkedin and back in the day myspace. Personally I didn't really care, but one thing that that makes me happy is if I google my name absolutely nothing comes up. I treasure my privacy.

To me that is safety and liberty all in one, and I gave up nothing.

RE: Tagging
By seeker353 on 8/28/2011 2:32:03 AM , Rating: 2
I wish I could rate you up, but I already posted a comment below.

RE: Tagging
By snakeInTheGrass on 8/28/2011 4:49:03 PM , Rating: 2
Good god, pretty much every article now gets this quote attached no matter how (un)related the topic.

Wait, Sears might change their return policy??? Franklin time!

RE: Tagging
By Pjotr on 8/27/2011 4:34:56 PM , Rating: 2
"Why is it always a foreign country" and "With the police state that is forming in the US"...

I think you just answered your own question there.

RE: Tagging
By Some1ne on 8/28/2011 2:44:37 AM , Rating: 3
Sorry, but as much as I love the Aussies, there is nothing rational about this. Facebook can operate its service with whatever features and policies that it wants. And if you don't agree with those policies or feel that those features will put you at risk, then the solution is simple; DON'T USE FACEBOOK. Nobody is forcing you to be on Facebook, and Facebook is under no obligation to cater to the demands of its users or of the world's various governments and agencies. It is a voluntary, opt-in service, and it's certainly not the job of Facebook to safeguard undercover police officers.

That is the job of the officers and their associated police department. They need to have enough discipline to avoid using social networks if they're in a position where they might be put in jeopardy by a Facebook page, and the foresight to let their family and friends know that "hey, I'm working on some really sensitive stuff, so please do not post any photos of me on the Internet".

RE: Tagging
By Uncle on 8/28/2011 1:23:37 PM , Rating: 2
It was also pointed out that some people join Facebook in their teens not thinking that one day they might be in a career such as police or some form of intelligence. Now what? Question 1: Have you ever signed on to a social network if so this and any other career in this field is prohibited. Which would mean half the population of the states are excluded.

If Facebook or Twitter...
By icanhascpu on 8/27/2011 3:36:15 PM , Rating: 3
can compromise undercover operations, you have two main issues you need to look at.

1. Someone on the inside is a snitch and they are using the aforementioned media to do their snitching.
2. You are not doing 'undercover' right.

Do not blame social media for inside incompetence. If your methods do not evolve with the times, it is YOUR fault. Evolution doe snot stop at human law. Evolve or perish, in any metaphorical sense.

RE: If Facebook or Twitter...
By seeker353 on 8/28/2011 2:24:04 AM , Rating: 2
Where you have your issues at is here:

"According to Keelty's survey, 85 percent of participants had photos of themselves uploaded by other people. "

I don't have a facebook myself, I think it's a horrible breach of basic privacy. However, no matter how many times I tell my mother and mother-in-law not to, they still post pictures of me and my kids all over their facebook pages. This is where the real danger comes in. If you were undercover, and had no facebook, you may still have relatives posting pictures and information about you, likely without you even knowing. And it's not exactly like you can tell your family "stop posting pictures this week, I'm going back undercover in a drug cartel".

RE: If Facebook or Twitter...
By Some1ne on 8/28/2011 2:57:02 AM , Rating: 3
"According to Keelty's survey, 85 percent of participants had photos of themselves uploaded by other people. "

I don't have a facebook myself, I think it's a horrible breach of basic privacy. However, no matter how many times I tell my mother and mother-in-law not to, they still post pictures of me and my kids all over their facebook pages.

You're right, that is a horrible breach of privacy. But it's not Facebook's problem, and there's nothing Facebook can do about it (and even if Facebook did, there's nothing stopping them from posting the same photos to Google+, or Twitter, or ImageShack, or their own custom website, or wherever else). The problem is *entirely* between you and your family member(s) failing to respect your privacy.

And there's nothing whatsoever stopping someone from telling their family "if you post pictures of me online I might die, and if I die because of a picture you posted of me then you'll end up in jail, so please don't post any pictures of me online". If they don't listen then they're jerks, and it makes far more sense to throw them in jail for jeopardizing the life of an officer than to try to take it out on Facebook or any other social-media service.

RE: If Facebook or Twitter...
By Uncle on 8/28/2011 1:27:45 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds more like your playing the Devils Advocate here.

RE: If Facebook or Twitter...
By 91TTZ on 8/28/2011 9:16:07 AM , Rating: 2
But that would make the problem yours and your family's, not Facebook's.

You can't stop tagging on a worldwide social network just because .0000001% of the population is an undercover agent in a law enforcement agency.

RE: If Facebook or Twitter...
By seeker353 on 8/29/2011 7:43:40 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not saying they should ban tagging, that would be censorship. I'm just saying that it's not necessarly the undercover officer's fault, or the fault of their department, if somebody comprimises a mission because someone else posts their info online without their knowledge.

Should be more concerned with...
By Hakuryu on 8/27/2011 1:29:29 PM , Rating: 1
Police Officers who run covert ops, that post their own images to their social sites. If they can't even realize they are setting themselves up for failure, how in the hell can they pull off a covert operation?

RE: Should be more concerned with...
By twhittet on 8/27/2011 2:48:14 PM , Rating: 2
Did you bother reading the article?

RE: Should be more concerned with...
By Fritzr on 8/28/2011 11:02:20 AM , Rating: 2
For the benefit of those who missed that part.

Teenager posts pics saying "I really want to be a police officer"

A few years later, rookie cop says "My dream came true" & has the usual here's what I've been doing lately pics

Assigned to an undercover unit the cop is told do not use any social networking or online photo galleries and ask all your relatives to pull any pics of you.

The problem of course is many long years of postings with pictures, self-identifying as a cop.

At this point organized groups like a drug gang or bikers will have had their IT geek scraping newspapers, social sites and online photo sites looking for pics of police in action and self identified officers.

Add face matching software and the officers could have a problem.

In US the police have already started fighting this trend by making illegal for civilians to photograph or video police officers.

This of course stops very few people from gathering video evidence of police misbehavior or just photos of "police in action", and definitely does not stop news photogs from publishing pictures. Add the police departments publicity photos such as graduations, award ceremonies and the usual pat on the back, job well done, stories complete with photos and there ain't much sense in banning the videoing of police misconduct other than to keep corrupt cops from being prosecuted.

By munky on 8/27/2011 5:40:47 PM , Rating: 3
After years of unconstitutional spying on US citizens, the police are getting worried that they might share the spotlight now? That's good, give em a taste of their own medicine.

No More Superheroes Either
By JDHack42 on 8/29/2011 12:34:16 PM , Rating: 2
"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs

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