Is Facebook in compliance with federal wiretapping laws?

According to a stroy in Story in Wired:
When The Pirate Bay released new Facebook features last month, the popular social networking site took evasive action, blocking its members from distributing file-sharing links through its service.

Now legal experts say Facebook may have gone too far, blocking not only links to torrents published publicly on member profile pages, but also examining private messages that might contain them, and blocking those as well.

“This raises serious questions about whether Facebook is in compliance with federal wiretapping law,” said Kevin Bankston, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, responding to questions from a reporter about the little-noticed policy that was first reported by TorrentFreak.

Facebook private messages are governed by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which forbids communications providers from intercepting user messages, barring limited exceptions for security and valid legal orders.

The EFF’s Bankston suggests that the real answer to the legal confusion over what providers can and cannot do with users’ online communications needs to come from federal lawmakers, who authored the statutes about e-mail privacy in the 1980s when the technology was much different.

“It is often unclear whether or how these Web 2.0 companies are covered by federal electronic privacy statutes, and that’s why Congress needs to update and revisit the law,” he said.

Read the full story here




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