Is Capturing Temporary Posts Compliant?
Whether or not an investigation is compliant with local law will always depend on the reasons for undertaking it in the first place. However, if it’s lawful to undertake an investigation which encompasses open-source content such as social media – then it is certainly going to be lawful to include any temporary posts within that investigation.
As long as a social media profile is public and not set to private then the temporary posts are visible to anyone who navigates to that profile – as such they should be treated in the same way as you would treat any other post made to that profile when they are recorded as part of the investigation.
If you wish to capture the posts to a certain profile over a longer period of time, then you may require a different authority as this could be seen in the same manner as a period of surveillance. Ultimately, the approach to this will depend on whether your investigation is Civil or Criminal, with a RIPA potentially being required in criminal public authority investigations. Whereas in a civil case – the approach will be decided by a privacy team – with appropriate sign offs for a period of monitoring where monitoring is deemed proportionate.
Why Use The NetWatch Temporary Intelligence Capture (TIC) tool?
In order for us to start including temporary posts within our investigation we felt it was essential to build a tool that could do this for us for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, if you view stories on Instagram via desktop or the app you will leave a footprint from the account you view them from. Leaving footprints is something we never want to do within our investigations, so we built TIC to make sure this did not happen. As such we are confident that we leave no trace when capturing temporary posts.
Secondly, we found that although there were other tools available online that could be used to capture stories when we took a look at the code – the information the user enters is harvested and sent to a third party. It is paramount that the details of the subjects we investigate remain confidential and we are certain we have no information leakage.
Finally, TIC allows us to ascertain the exact date and time a story was posted, this cannot be seen normally and can be essential to an investigation – it also makes the evidence way more powerful in any case if we can confirm right down to the very second when a story was posted.