01:58 GMT25 September 2020
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    The Norwegian Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos) is seriously considering the possibilities of launching "uniformed police profiles" to patrol the social media site.

    Kripos is currently looking into the legal aspects of granting police accounts access to closed Facebook groups and other parts of the popular social network not open to the public, according to the Norwegian economic daily Dagens Næringsliv.

    "We are studying the possibility of creating uniformed accounts. However, we have not yet decided whether it is something we should do or not," Kripos communications officer Axel Wilhelm Due told Dagens Næringsliv.

    According to the newspaper, the Norwegian police has never been granted special access to the social media outlet before, but it can nevertheless apply for access in connection with their enquiries. Facebook's Norwegian PR representative, Släger Kommunikasjon, declined to give any comment on verified police profiles in an email to Dagens Næringsliv.

    Earlier this month, however, the Norwegian police was reported to have used fake profiles to investigate crimes such as smuggling, Norwegian national broadcaster NRK reported earlier this month.

    Previously, NRK revealed a number of closed Facebook groups featuring thousands of users, who indulge in the illegal sales of liquor, tobacco and aphrodisiacs.

    "We get many tips on groups selling smuggled alcohol, drugs or other illegal things. Then we get into these groups to secure criminal evidence," police officer Emil Jenssen told NRK.

    Since these operations may require anonymity, they are often carried out using fake profiles to provoke a criminal transaction in order to obtain proof. Subsequently, a meeting is appointed using the same fake profile. According to Jenssen, this method may only be used by police and is punishable for ordinary users who try and pretend to be somebody else. The decoys are used when the police have suspicions of criminal activity.

    "For us to get into such a private conversation, either of the parties must send us the log. Alternatively, we can also gain access to private conversations through the confiscation of mobile phones. Still another option is to request logs directly from Facebook," Jenssen explained.

    Facebook specifically prohibits the marketing and sale of any illegal content and is dependent on users tipping off any criminal activity.

    In order to obtain valuable information, Kripos needs to get a court ruling, yet may also make use of the emergency clause, if there is danger to life and health. In such cases, things often take less than an hour to get sorted out, Jenssen said.

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