We know the FBI is secretive because it has to be able to dig up dirt on the guilty while also – ideally – protecting the innocent. But in a shocking lapse of judgment, the FBI and DHS were recently found guilty themselves of publishing the identities of some of society’s most vulnerable victims – child victims of sexual abuse. Publicly available court documents were found to contain children’s Facebook IDs, which could simply be attached to a facebook.com URL to lead to the children’s profiles.1
Negligence and endangerment like that, I have to say, is absolutely criminal.
Forbes Magazine discovered this horrifying gaffe, in which not only the Facebook ID’s of the victims were disclosed, but in some cases, transcripts from personal and explicit Facebook chats. Certain search warrant applications contained information from private chats between perpetrators and victims that Facebook had handed over to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, now publicly available by virtue of its inclusion on the warrants.2
Child safety professionals from other countries, such as Canada and the U.K., are appalled. “In Canadian courts, this type of information would not be released for public consumption nor should it be,” said Signy Arnason, associate executive director at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “I am amazed,” said John Carr, a consultant to the U.K. on child exploitation and internet safety. “Allowing anything to go into the public domain that would allow a child victim to be identified is absolutely forbidden.”3
Even worse, the DOJ doesn’t seem willing or inclined to fix the issue anytime soon. Forbes contacted the agency multiple times to report their finding, but received no response. Forbes reports that the identifying information (as of June 2019) remains unsealed.4
Where to begin?!! JoTo PR has reported on numerous instances that the U.S. population’s trust in its government is at an all-time low, and reports like this don’t help. We’ll always have partisan disagreement, but we can ALL agree that the government is failing us miserably by failing to protect young sexual abuse victims. Distrust in institutions erodes the social fabric – and this is one egregious instance that could easily have been prevented. #PRFAIL.
Brewster, Thomas. “FBI And DHS Blunders Reveal Names Of Child Abuse Victims Via Facebook IDs.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 19 June 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2019/06/19/fbi-dhs-failures-reveal-names-of-child-abuse-victims-through-facebook-identities/#6ae330cb2fe8.