US Court Attorney, Richard Hartunian, of the Nothern District of New York, on Tuesday ruled against the Justice Department for tactic faking of the identity of a convicted drug-user to capture others. It fined the DEA over $134,000 to settle Sondra Arquiett claims of ‘fear and emotional distress,’ danger to life due to faking of her identity for over three months by an officer investigating ‘dangerous individuals’ on drug conspiracy charges.
Arquiett was convicted in 2011, to charges of drugs and served a year in jail as well as home confinement sentence.
However, in 2013, she filed against the Drug Enforcement Administration for wrongfully using her personal information, accessed from her impounded cellphone, and the setting-up of a Facebook account to lure close friends and contacts to reveal implicit drug secrets.
While the Department in the initial stages of the investigations claimed that her consent had been part of the tactic, it quickly changed its stance to guilty as the case gained public attention.
Aptly, the Judge in his ruling upheld the increasing concerns of privacy infringement by government agencies as part of routine investigations. The Judge ruled that the settlement demonstrates the government’s intention to uphold rights of third parties during the course of criminal investigations, if there unintentional infringements occur. The Judge added that, the case also upholds the increasing concerns of privacy protection in the age of social media and justice delivered to the wronged!
However, the settlement does not rule or specify that the DEA cannot engage in similar future tactics. A spokeswoman for the Department stated that there have directions from the Department leadership censuring privacy infringements and further direction to secure and protect third parties during the course of criminal investigations!
The settlement may well be the first of the many that DEA will have to deal with, as news of another privacy infringement of Asian gamblers through ‘tactic techniques’ has already been at the center of further public outcry!