Privacy Law

Woman who sued US over imposter Facebook page gets $134K settlement

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The United States has agreed to pay $134,000 to settle a lawsuit by a woman who claims the Drug Enforcement Administration created a fake Facebook page in her name using photos from her cellphone.

The government does not admit liability in its settlement with Sondra Arquiett of Watertown, New York, who said the government created the page in hopes of finding suspects in a drug ring after her arrest in July 2010, report the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, the Associated Press and the Albany Times Union. Some photos showed Arquiett in skimpy attire.

Arquiett, who pleaded guilty in 2011 to a cocaine conspiracy charge, contended the fake page gave the impression she was cooperating with law enforcement and put her in danger. Prosecutors said she played a minor role in the drug ring.

The Justice Department had initially argued that Arquiett implicitly consented to the ruse when she allowed the government to use her cellphone information in criminal investigations. Now the Justice Department says the case has spurred a review of its policies.

Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush told the Times Union the review is ongoing, “but Department of Justice leadership has already met with law enforcement agencies to make clear the necessity of protecting the privacy and safety of third parties in every aspect of our criminal investigations.”

Related articles: DEA agent created imposter Facebook page with real woman’s info to lure suspects, suit says

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