within legally prescribed means the data that might be of
relevance to a particular investigation. Although there is
much debate and concern over what data law enforcement
can legally seize through such documents, social media
service providers such as Facebook and Twitter have provided legal assistance and law enforcement liaisons to assist
in asking for accurate and legal requests to be processed
quickly and efficiently. Although there are hundreds of
social media providers out there, there are resources that
are publically available to law enforcement investigators
in order to obtain contact information for such providers.
SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics ( www.search.org), has compiled and actively maintains a list of Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
and the legal contact information for these providers. This
information can be found at http://search.org/programs/
hightech/isp/ and is invaluable in quickly contacting a
particular social media ISP to issue subpoenas, court orders
and search warrants.
In addition, social media evidence can be the primary
evidence that will allow judges to issue court ordered documents such as search warrants. In order to justify a particular search warrant, law enforcement investigators must
establish probable cause. Since social media can sometimes
be publically available, this evidence, such as videos or
even Facebook pages themselves, can legally be used as the
probable cause for a search warrant application. According
to the 2012 LexisNexis social media survey, when challenged as evidence, social media evidence provided for
search warrants holds up in court 87% of the time (
LexisNexis, 2012). As privacy controls and the laws regarding
the legal seizure of such data become more stringent, so do
the requirements of what can be obtained by a social media
driven search warrant (see Chapter 4 for detailed information on search warrants and social media). It is also important for investigators to possess some level of know-how in
effectively drafting legal documents that will be accepted
by social media service providers such as You Tube, Facebook and Twitter. All too often, the legal counsel of these
service providers will reject requests by law enforcement
and other authorities because the legal verbiage is incorrect
or it does not contain the desired text. This creates an issue
with the investigation as the evidence contained on these
sites is extremely volatile and subject to change at any
time. Therefore, it is important for investigators to become
well-versed on the effective drafting of such documents
(for more information on drafting effective court orders,
see Part 4 and the examples provided in the appendix).
From: Social Media Investigation for Law Enforcement by
Joshua Brunty and Katherine Helenek http://store.elsevier.
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