Judge says cops can trick you into befriending them on Instagram

In what might be the slowest tech news week of the year, there’s a weird tidbit out of New Jersey. A U.S. District Judge has ruled that cops are allowed to create fake identities on Instagram to follow suspects. As we’ve seen in the past, criminals occasionally post evidence of their crimes on social media applications, and image-heavy Instagram is no different.

The ruling came about after police officers befriended a serial burglar — Daniel Gatson — on Instagram. The person had posted shots of certain wares, described in the opinion as “large amounts of cash and jewelry, which were quite possibly the proceeds from the specified federal offenses.” He protected his Instagram account, so you had to request to follow him to see the content, and the officers created a fake account to get that access.

They used the picture evidence to obtain a search warrant for Gatson’s home. In return, Gatson tried to get the evidence thrown out, saying it violated his Fourth Amendment Rights. The judge wasn’t buying it, because Gatson approved the agent’s friend request. “No search warrant is required for the consensual sharing of this type of information,” the Court said in its opinion.

This is, of course, not the first time that social media and the law have intersected. Agents, officers, and lawyers have used Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites to gather intel and evidence in cases, resulting in varying degrees of public outrage. The DEA was scolded by Facebook this past October after it came to light that the agency had taken an arrested woman’s photos from her phone and used them to create a fake profile in the hopes of gathering intel from her contacts. The case hasn’t gone to trial yet.

In August last year, Oakland prosecutors were able to up a man’s charge from vehicular manslaughter to murder using some of his morbid tweets. Some courts have even ruled that a plaintiff had to hand over his Facebook password to a defendant so content on the site could be used as evidence.

But a legal expert who spoke to Ars Technica about the case said they believe this might be the first incident involving Instagram.

 

FCC Chairman intends to fight network neutrality defeat, but how?

In a speech today the FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said he “intends to fight” the court ruling that on Tuesday gutted most of the FCC’s Open Internet Order governing network neutrality. Speaking at a Washington DC event he said, “Using our authority we will re-address the concepts in the open Internet order, as the court invited, to encourage growth and innovation and enforce against abuse.” So now the question is will he reclassify broadband as a Title II service or rely on the 706 clause in the Telecommunications Act? And will he do this via a formal proceeding or on a case by case basis that he had formerly preached?

Happy Valentine’s, Google — see you in court

A British man has found some sympathy in the courts because Google did not delete false comments about him made on Blogger fast enough. Does his case open a backdoor to internet regulation?

Britain Learns the Power of Twitter and the Streisand Effect

If there’s one thing a real-time network like Twitter is good at, it’s distributing information, regardless of whether those who control that information want to see it distributed or not — as a British football player who is suing Twitter has found out to his chagrin.

Apple Granted Permanent Injuction Against Psystar

Despite Apple and Psystar having discussed a potential settlement in their drawn-out battle, the agreement was dependent upon the outcome of Apple’s (s aapl) motion for a permanent injunction. Yesterday, the California U.S. District Court responsible for ruling in the matter issued its decision, and the outcome is not favorable for the Mac clone maker.

Apple, however, will be very pleased with the ruling. The court granted Apple’s request for a permanent injunction, barring future sales of any machines with OS X pre-installed. It also prohibits Psystar from trying to get around Apple’s technological countermeasures put in place to prevent illegal copying and use of OS X, and from helping others try to do so. Read More about Apple Granted Permanent Injuction Against Psystar