The Utilization of Personal Data on Facebook by Surveillance Authorities

Sigurður G. Hafstað, Jóhanna Gunnlaugsdóttir


The aim of this research was to explore how information on Facebook was being used by surveillance authorities in Iceland. The objective was to explore both formal and informal use of such information. Semi structured interviews were conducted with specialists who were employed at surveillance authorities in Iceland. In addition the research contains legal analysis on administrative decisions to explore the formal use of such information. Findings showed that information on Facebook has been utilized in surveillance. Governmental authorities have based formal decisions on such information. This type of information has also been regularly used in more informal ways such as to get a better feeling for a particular case. Other authorities reported to have used Facebook to identify individuals, gather information on their whereabouts or location.


Facebook; electronic surveillance; social media; public governance.

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Published by the Institute of Public Administration and Politics of the Faculty of Political Science, University of Iceland.

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