How would you like to stumble upon a Facebook page that you did not create, and that also displayed your name and your personal photographs? Better yet, how would you feel if that same page was created and being used by a government agency to catch criminals?
That is exactly what happened to a Sondra Arquiett in 2010 when an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) took it upon himself to create a fake Facebook account with the hopes of establishing contact with criminal drug dealers. DEA agent Timothy Sinnigen admitted to creating the account and appropriating Arquiett’s likeness, according to the federal lawsuit that Arquiett filed against the DEA and agent Sinnigen in the Northern District of New York. Arquiett had previously been arrested for drug charges in 2010, and during that time some of her personal items were seized. One of those items was her cell phone, which contained personal and private photographs. Sinnigen used the photographs on the fake Facebook page in order to create the impression that it had been created and was being managed by Arquiett.
The photographs, some of which contain images of Arquiett’s young son and niece, were taken and used without permission or authorization. The complaint alleges that Arquiett was “deprived of her Constitutional rights, including her right of privacy afforded to her under the First Amendment”. This clearly raises some concerns about privacy, and to what extent the government can use your personal information. The Justice Department will investigate this practice and the issues it creates.
The case had been set for trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, however it appears now that it may head to mediation.
By Taylor Hume