David Collin

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Is it OK if private companies disclose all your social network or other internet records to police authorities to quell civil disturbances?

RIM Blackberry is fully cooperating with Scotland Yard to help identify participants in recent riots. Is that OK for private companies to do? How about Facebook, Twitter.Linkedin, ISPs, phone companies? How about using face recognition (which Facebook evidently has) and friend or contact lists to also find the friends and acquaintances to help name rioters. How about using social network communications to build dossiers of "potential" rioters and to "prevent" future disturbances?

Is this OK in Britain or the US? Is it OK in China or Middle Eastern countries?

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    Aug 15 2011: no they shouldnt, but serious rioters should know better.
  • Aug 14 2011: I don't understand your question. Do you mean is it “OK” from a legal standpoint or from a moral one?
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      Aug 15 2011: Both. Legally are privacy agreements with service providers meaningful if authorities want to commandeer information? What about the legality of obtaining information about associates that may or may not have any relation to the situation in question. If one person is inquired about will others become "of interest" by association?

      Morally don't providers have an obligation to serve the privacy interests of their users even if the authorities panic or just want the convenience of data -- including photos -- available from participation in social activities?
  • Aug 13 2011: Yes, unless stated otherwise in a written binding contract by both parties. (Subject to the laws of a nation in which the private company resides)

    That is the problem with using these services.

    When a person actively and knowingly makes their private information public (regardless of "privacy settings") they loose control of that information.

    Even when there is a contract that should forbid a private company from sharing private information, once the information is leaked, there is not a digital dirt stain remover strong enough to ever delete the information fully.