The New York Daily News states that under the new rules, NYPD "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."
In general, I believe that the NYPD should take their rules that govern their activities offline and transfer them online. Since police officers go under cover to fight crime in the real world they should be able to do the same in the digital world. However, if a potential suspect refuses to provide access to an under cover officer via turning down a Facebook Friend request or by changing his privacy settings, the NYPD should then be required to follow the proper legal channels to obtain access to the password protected digital content.
There needs to be an appropriate balance between the needs of law enforcement and the right to privacy. As more police departments follow the NYPD's lead, there may be more opportunities to determine how to balance these issues.
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Copyright 2012 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.