A woman is suing the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), alleging that the agency impersonated her online in order to lure suspected criminals.
Sondra Arquiett claims that a DEA agent used photos taken from her mobile phone to create a fake Facebook page, which the agency then used to help corral drug suspects.
According to a copy of the suit, obtained by BuzzFeed, DEA employee Timothy Sinnigen allegedly accessed Arquiett's phone when she was arrested in New York State on drugs charges in 2010. Among the information obtained was a series of personal photos.
Arquiett claims that the photos on the phone were copied by the DEA and uploaded to Facebook in order to create a fake profile, which agents then used to lure other suspected members of a local drug trafficking ring.
In addition to accusing Sinnigen of impersonating Arquiett, the suit claims the agent also violated her privacy by posting intimate or sexually suggestive photos of her and photos featuring her then-infant daughter and underage niece.
Arquiett's suit further accuses the DEA of endangering her by using the fake Facebook page to initiate contact with dangerous people, while creating the appearance that she was willfully cooperating with the DEA's investigation of the trafficking ring.
Arquiett is suing the DEA and Sinnigen in Northern New York District Court for at least $750,000 in damages plus court costs. Her suit was filed last year, but on Tuesday this week, her attorneys submitted documents necessary for the case to begin a mandatory mediation phase.
Facebook, meanwhile, continues to wrangle with the issue of managing user identities. A group of users in San Francisco have protested the company's "real names" policy as discriminatory towards drag performers and others who wish to use a moniker other than their legal name, but Facebook maintains that 99 per cent of those who do use fake names are "bad actors doing bad things." ®