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Apr 12

When the cops subpoena your Facebook information, here’s what Facebook sends the cops

by Carly Carioli

This week’s Boston Phoenix cover story — Hunting the Craigslist Killer: An Untold Detective Story from the Digital Frontier — would not have been possible without access to a huge trove of case files released by the Boston Police Department. Many of those documents have never been made public — until now. As a kind of online appendix to the article, we’re publishing over a dozen documents from the file, ranging from transcripts of interviews to the subpoenas that investigators obtained from the tech companies that helped them track the killer’s digital fingerprints. We’ve also published the crime scene photos and uploaded recordings made by investigators as they interviewed the killer, Philip Markoff, and others involved in the case.

One of the most fascinating documents we came across was the BPD’s subpoena of Philip Markoff’s Facebook information. It’s interesting for a number of reasons — for one thing, Facebook has been pretty tight-lipped about the subpoena process, even refusing to acknowledge how many subpoenas they’ve served. Social-networking data is a contested part of a complicated legal ecosystem — in some cases, courts have found that such data is protected by the Stored Communications Act.

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