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Spying on you using fake social media profiles: One Scots council could

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Childcatcher

"into a personal relationship with the third party/group member."

As if there aren't enough opportunities for official cyber stalking.

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Re: "into a personal relationship with the third party/group member."

True. The correct policy, which would have satisfied the law, would have been "It is not acceptable for any member of the council to create a false social media profiles for the purpose of their employment. Anyone found to have done so will be dismissed, and appropriate legal investigations begun. Anyone who knew about it and failed to report it will also be dismissed, and legal options considered." It could also put in a statement about use of information found through social contacts of any type outside of work, too.

The fact that the council didn't do this undermines their argument that they would never do it.

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Legality?

Wouldn't deliberately creating an account with false details be in breach of Facebook's user agreement, and therefore constitute unauthorised use?

Wouldn't that in turn be illegal under the Computer Misuse Act?

If the want information on peoples' Facebook account, they should get a secret court order and/or intercept the data like all the other agencies seem to be doing.

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Re: Legality?

The legality is suspect, but surely this fails the basic moral sniff test:

- Would I want someone to investigate me in this manner?

- Would I do this to a friend or family member?

- Would I want this on the front page of a national newspaper?

- Would I want this detailed on my CV?

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Re: Legality?

Really? You think the authorities should only be allowed to investigate criminals in ways the criminals would want to be investigated?

Wow, I don't think even Liberty would suggest that.

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Re: Legality?

It's not so much the investigation of criminals that is the issue, but the investigation of people who are *not* criminals. We have the police to investigate possible crimes, we do not need council jobsworths who fancies themselves as being a budding Sherlock Holmes sticking their oars in. Things such as putting rubbish in the wrong bin are not serious enough to justify such deception and intrusions of privacy.

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Re: Legality?

> Would I want someone to investigate me in this manner?

Definitely. Ideally the only manner in which I may be investigated would be trying to enter into a personal relationship with me using social media. Unless it includes forcing me to use them, of course.

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Big Brother

Welcome ta Scotland...

...the new authoritarian state.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Welcome ta Scotland...

Except that the law was passed in 2000 and the quite similar RIPA act also applies to England.

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Trollface

Re: Welcome ta Scotland...

It's what you get for becoming a one party state.

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Re: Welcome ta Scotland...

I can understand why you'd say with that kind of thing being bandied about by the London centric media.

But there's a massive hint that the council isn't led by the SNP in the Scotsman story: no political party is mentioned.

Actually the majority of councils in Scotland are not controlled the SNP - again something that some might find surprising in a "one party state"...

As it turns out, East Lothian council is led by a Labour/tory/independent coalition: http://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/info/695/council_information_performance_and_statistics/625/who_runs_the_council

That type of arrangement is actually far from uncommon.

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Re: Welcome ta Scotland...

... oh aye, we've hud the internet fur a gud twa year noo.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Welcome ta Scotland...

All I saw reading that was get in my belly.

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Big Brother

The Why and When

It is not clear in what circumstances a covert identity would be necessary to access the information contained in a private group on Facebook. RIPSA legislation already allows for a wide number of authorities to seek the info directly from Facebook.

Presumably it's for when they seek to entrap a suspect into revealing something that Facebook really would not have any details on after weaselling their way into their lives - "I conned them into paying for kids I did not have and for a house I did not own. Have you ever pulled a fast one on the council and got away with it?".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Why and When

Then there is the slippery slope where the agent provocateur actually encourages someone to do something. No doubt the true identity of the person who "put them up to it" would not be disclosed in court.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Why and When

We do that in Canada.

The RCMP find a couple of ex-druggie mental health patients and give them plans to make explosive to blow up parliament. They then sweep in having cracked this major terrorist network.

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Re: The Why and When

Works down here for the FBI.

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Anonymous Coward

and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

Isn't this a good enough answer?

If you are not on it then no matter what they do they can't spy on you.

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Re: and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

I'm sure they have methods other than facebook if they really wanted

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Re: and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

Just use a fake identity ...

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Re: and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

Yes, this is a perfect answer for why in 2016, we will tell you that your experience is totally out of date and you are no longer employable, despite all that "valuable mainframe experience" in the 70s... go and get your pension granddad... and let the current generation who understand social networks actually talk sense instead of your sweary old nonsense.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

Are you sure that your syrname isn't 'Clarkson'?

As for retiring because my experience is out of date?

Are you kidding. My 30+ years of connecting all sorts of stuff up and making it work pays very well. Why should I retire when I'm earning close to 6 figures a year? And, I'm enjoying myself as well.

A lot of you young whippersnappers are still wet behind the ears when it comes to large scale integration design and implementation. The cost of the buildings and plant on my present project is well in excess of $450M. This is a far cry from making a few webpages or a phone app.

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Re: and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

You're a bit of a condescending prick aren't you Jeremy.

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Re: and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

Ah! Another 16 year old numpty who thinks he has all the answers because he is, well, young!

The people who really understand Social Networking are the ones who invented and own it ( Mostly not so young) and are making billions out of the 'Generation That Understands Social Networks' like you.

Tell us about your day, did you have a good experience in the toilet this morning or anything else that is life changingly rivettingly important?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

"We can't find you on social media".

"That's because I'm a competent at security."

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Headmaster

Re: and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

"That's because I'm a competent at security."

Grammar...not so much...

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Re: and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

I'm not young enough to know everything!

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Re: and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

Jeremy, I was going to throw a tantrum at you for that, but then decided to click on your name and see what you had to say before (very social networky of me, wont you agree?), so I'll just write this off as an attempted sarcasm, or pointing out how HR drones work now in an exaggerated way.

I was asked for my FB account as well at applications, and was frowned upon when explaining I didn't have one, and even if I did I wouldn't accept "friend" requests from non-friends.

Anyways, if I was a job hunter and got a resume which fielded "understand social networks", I'd find them a nice job as a internet cafe desk admin at most.

Now if it was "understand how social networks work, technically, and how to keep things secure", they might have a chance to do something more useful.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

@Jeremy

I've been challenged at interviews for not having a social media profile (of any kind) before.

However, when I explained that since they were hiring me to design the security for their entire global network and the less people knew about me the better, they got the point.

There's nothing that shouts 'breach of contract' quicker than being targeted by state-level hackers so they can take all those designs of their actual target and use them, nefariously :)

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Re: and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

"the less people knew about me the better"

Just over a decade ago you could search the internet for "Secret Project" + CV and get all the main engineers involved. They'd boast about it online, perhaps inadvertently through recruitment agencies.

In 2003 I found the main engineer behind the UK's '4 minute warning' of a nuclear attack. Brian Dreary. I wanted to trigger the warning, at least for high ranking officials, but I was persuaded by a wiser soul that was irresponsible and potentially dangerous.

For the record, at that time at least, the 'four minute warning' consisted of a pre-recorded telephone call to every British land-line, telling you Armageddon was imminent but not to panic. Guess whose voice they used to reassure us? Joanna Lumley!

Good choice. My plan was to either steal the recording or hire a voice impersonator, and call all the key folk just to panic them into heart attacks. I was talked out of that but I sort of wish I had.

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Re: and people ask why I'm not on any (anti-)social media site?

Joanna Lumley? Cool.

I want to hear that message now.

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I'm sure they'd happily use this if they believed they could prove you put your bins out the night before collection rather than before 7:30 on the day of.

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How can you be disgusted?

As I am repeatedly told by a collegue of mine who lives in Tunbridge Wells, it is the sunniest in-land resort in the UK.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disgusted_of_Tunbridge_Wells

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This being East Lothian council they'd be far more concerned if you weren't recycling the husks of your organic beans or didn't rinse your milk bottles before disposal.

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Boffin

If you know why "the twenty committee" was so-called ...

Then you'll know why schemes like this are *extremely* high risk for the authority involved.

Perhaps we could have an El Reg competition to see what the most outlandish thing we can get them to swallow ?

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Go

Perhaps we could have an El Reg competition

I've got a tenner towards the prize.

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Would it be acceptable

to create a false social media account to lure Scottish Council officers into revealing their innermost fantasies and personal secrets and then sending these to other Scottish Council officers? As long as it's not made public then it should be ok.

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"East Lothian Council [..] is highly unlikely to do so"

"Highly unlikely" does not cut it. Government has no right to do spy on citizens, period.

Take whatever lines concerning this practice out and clean up the practice.

Change "is highly unlikely to" to "is legally obliged NOT to" and things will be slightly better.

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Re: "East Lothian Council [..] is highly unlikely to do so"

If they've produced a "justiication" document, you can bet they've done it already, and someone's looking to cover their arses.

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Unhappy

"We had to have a policy"

Fair enough.

But a better policy would have been "we will not do this".

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Big Brother

"... include all eventualities ..."

" ... a policy must be put in place to include all eventualities even if they are not used."

So how about "entering into a personal relationship with the third party/group member" in meatspace, not cyberspace? As practised by the Met Police.

It's an "eventuality", so what does their policy say?

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Stop

So, is entrapment an option?

My new Facebook friend told me that if I falsified X on my application, I could get benefit Y from the West Lothian Council and "totally get away with it". So I did that and now I have a new....Excuse me a sec, someone is breaking down the front door.

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WTF?

Re: So, is entrapment an option?

I actually did have someone try to break my door down this morning (well, afternoon) - it was the police.

Sent by mental health services. I told the police to fuck off. They were good about it. They had their time wasted too. All because someone wanted to be passive-aggressive. These fuckers have power. Don't deal with them. Especially if you have problems. They are incompetent and dangerous. I'm talking about any of the council government services now. Not the police. I criticise them elsewhere, but here I have nothing but good to say about them - lovely ladies they were.

Last time I had the police breaking my door down was when my stalker called them from another country. Same shit, different day.

I have never once had the police darken my doorstep for any other reason what so ever.

I wonder what the neighbours think? All these police turning up, hammering at my door, me with my headphones on and sleeping. Yes, last time I had my headphones on and was sleeping in the day when they came. This time too. I just send them packing. They must think it is a new way of dealing with the police, just tell them to do one and they go away. Perhaps they see more as a hero than a paedeophile. Guess I'll never know as they never talk to me.

Whatever next, getting S.W.A.T.T.E.D. by the fucking council coz you had the temerity to request the bin men don't chuck all the bins all over the floor after we have lovingly stacked them up and ordered them for them?

I spent about 20 hours on the phone to them and suffered much abuse. And the best part is, like your local housing association, they can access your medical files, if they feel like it.

You jest, but...

Sorry, this one rung a bell with me (or rather reminded me of my door coming off it's fucking hinges at 2pm in the afternoon when I was trying to get some shut-eye).

I'm ok now. Thanks for listening. As you were. It was a bit of a shock, but I'll get over it at some point...

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Silver badge

Re: So, is entrapment an option?

I'd see your GP about changing the meds

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Thumb Up

Re: So, is entrapment an option?

Thank you for your sincere concern on an otherwise traumatic day JJ Carter.

The GP has nothing to do with the meds. Besides, I don't take meds as they are absolutely totally irrefutably useless for dealing with my extremely rare condition: Not being a bastard in a society full of bastards.

Bitter, maybe. But I don't torture kittens, and I help old people across the road, so I can't be that much of a fucking menace to others.

However, make an out of place comment to an authority driven jobsworth, because you are on the spectrum, and well, get a rude awakening.

Thanks for taking the time. I'll tell Dr. Payne you sent me.

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Re: So, is entrapment an option?

My new Facebook friend told me that if I falsified X on my application, I could get benefit Y from the West Lothian Council and "totally get away with it".

Getting East Lothian residents to claim benefits from West Lothian Council would be a neat idea, at least for East Lothian Council. I wonder if that was their plan all along.

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Anonymous Coward

Nicola Sturgeon=Rosa Klebb

perhaps they're worried that some traitor will post the secret recipe for Deep Fried Mars Bars to the 'sassanachs' on Twitter?

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Re: Nicola Sturgeon=Rosa Klebb

Mars bar. Batter. Oil.

I have seen them, they are real, but I've only seen foreign students eating them. We Scots regard them as different courses.

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Black Helicopters

The Scottish are turning out to be quite the surprise

Who knew they were as 'into' the fascist totalitarian thing as much as everyone else?

Like the named person scheme, where perfectly happy healthy kids have to have a guardian of the state, up to 4 of them in fact, to check that they are being treated well at home, that their gender issues are being dealt with in a serious manner by their parents, that they got jam on their toast that morning, and that mummy and daddy don't smoke lots of dope before having it off in the greenhouse.

This is fascism. This is totalitarianism. It can have no other name.

They had the power a while back, and then they worked out the best way to abuse that power with impunity.

The message is clear: Do not go on fcukbook. You will be tracked. Do not go doing anything without knowing, we are watching you, and we have spies, you know. In fact, don't even go on the internet, except for when we tell you to sign in for the daily 2 minutes of hate. And we'll know if you do go on the internet. Because we are watching every single little thing you do.

Be seeing you....

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