I am greatly concerned by recent reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration used the identity of an unsuspecting young woman to create a public Facebook profile to interact with suspected drug traffickers. This extraordinary tactic placed this woman and her family at risk, and I expect the Justice Department to reconsider the use of such techniques.Senator Leahy didn't hold back in explaining just why this whole situation was "appalling."
Viewers of the fake profile, which was only removed from Facebook this month, could believe the woman was currently involved with illicit activities or was actively cooperating with a law enforcement investigation. The DEA agent's decision to post suggestive photographs of the woman as well as pictures of her young child and niece is appalling and placed them at even greater risk.However, remember, this is the very same DOJ which has argued in other cases that violating the terms of service of certain websites is a violation of the CFAA. But, of course, when the government itself does it, in much more appalling situations, they don't seem to think there's any problem.
I understand that cooperating defendants often provide critical assistance to criminal investigations. However, the decision to cooperate and the nature of that cooperation is a decision to be made by the defendant and the defendant alone. Law enforcement agencies should not risk the safety of innocents or those who are serving their debt to society without their knowledge or consent. Although the Justice Department has indicated that this incident is under review, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of New York has thus far defended the practice. I hope the Justice Department will agree that creating an online profile using an unsuspecting person's identity to communicate with criminals is unethical, potentially dangerous, and should not be condoned by our nation's law enforcement agencies.
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