NYPD allows officers to register fake aliases on Facebook, Twitter

The New York Police Department has, for the first time, laid out rules for using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter during investigations.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly issued a memo that makes it OK for cops to register fake aliases to cruise social media, as long as they keep the department informed.

The five page memo 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 NYPD, the New York Daily News reports.

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.

According to the paper, Christopher Dunn, an associate legal director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, pointed out that police work on the Internet is ripe for abuse.

“Electronic undercover work is fine. 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,” the paper quoted him, as saying.

Jethro Eisenstein, a lawyer, whose lawsuit led to the Handschu Guidelines, a consent decree that governs how police investigate political activity, also stressed that using aliases violates those guidelines.

The NYPD memo comes as police have made headlines for how it uses and deals with the Internet.

The memo says officers can use subpoenas, court orders or search warrants to obtain certain electronic evidence, the paper said.

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