Breaking News Bar
posted: 8/16/2014 7:22 AM

Other social media back Facebook in search warrant fight

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Facebook's fight against prosecutors over nearly 400 search warrants for users' postings and other data is drawing support from other social media companies and civil libertarians.

      Facebook's fight against prosecutors over nearly 400 search warrants for users' postings and other data is drawing support from other social media companies and civil libertarians.
    Associated Press

 
By Jennifer Peltz
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Facebook's fight against prosecutors over nearly 400 search warrants for users' postings and other data is drawing support from other social media companies and civil libertarians.

Lawyers for Foursquare, Kickstarter, Meetup, and Tumblr said Monday they were seeking to join the clash on Facebook's side. The New York Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union also have recently said they were backing Facebook.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

They see the warrants -- for data including friend lists, photos, and private messages, many of them from users who have yet to be charged and may never be -- as a troubling message for digital-age privacy. Facebook has said it had previously never received so many search warrants.

"With the burgeoning tech industry in New York, the need to protect the privacy of users has never been greater," said Richard Holwell, a former federal judge who's now in private practice and representing the four tech companies, all New York-based.

A judge has said the search warrants were justified. So do Manhattan prosecutors, who sought the data for a sweeping disabilities-benefit fraud investigation. Some 134 people have been charged so far, more than half have pleaded guilty, and prosecutors have said more could be implicated.

"Prosecutors have a right and a responsibility to collect evidence in criminal cases, wherever that information is stored," Joan Vollero, spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office, said Monday.

A Manhattan judge approved the 381 warrants in July 2013, saying law enforcement has authority to search massive amounts of material to seek evidence. The case was secret until it was unsealed and Facebook disclosed it in June.

The Menlo Park, California-based company has turned over the information but is appealing the court order that required it to do so.

The case involves police and fire retirees, allegedly instructed to claim they were too psychologically devastated to work. Instead, they led robust lives -- some flew helicopters, traveled overseas, did martial arts, went fishing -- and sometimes aired the alleged proof of their active lives on Facebook, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors have said they gave the judge 93 pages of details on why all the accounts were targeted.

But Facebook has said prosecutors cast too wide a net. Their campaign amounted to the online equivalent of searching "an entire neighborhood of nearly 400 homes," the company said in a June court filing. The users ranged from high school students to grandparents, Facebook said.

Over the years, online companies have sometimes won, sometimes lost, in battling authorities' demands for user information.

------

Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @jennpeltz

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here