Warning over officials’ false IDs online

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The Government’s surveillance watchdog has warned public officials against setting up false identities on social media for covert investigations.

The Office of Surveillance Commissioners said public authorities may be unlawfully using the likes of Facebook and Twitter for their inquiries as they are not seeking proper authorisation.

A number of public authorities have run awareness campaigns with amnesty periods for unauthorised activity, such as when officers have created false personae to disguise online activities, the Office said in its annual report.

Chief Surveillance Commissioner Sir Christopher Rose said: “In cash-strapped public authorities, it might be tempting to conduct online investigations from a desktop, as this saves time and money, and often provides far more detail.

“But just because one can, does not mean one should.”