Facebook Loses Appeal on Search Warrants

Posted on 22 July, 2015 at 14:15

According to the New York Times, the New York State appellate court has "ruled on Tuesday that Facebook had no legal standing to challenge search warrants on behalf of its customers." Facebook was challenging search warrants issued on its customers' accounts arguing that "search warrants served on social media sites are akin to civil subpoenas for records, which may be challenged in court." As this appeal could impact other social media outlets, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter, filed amicus brief along with the New York Civil Liberties Union. The appellate court, however, disagreed with Facebook's argument. According to the article, "the five-judge panel in Manhattan said that under state and federal law only a defendant can challenge a search warrant, and it must be done during a hearing before trial. At that point, defendants can move to have evidence thrown out as the fruit of an illegal search."

The case stems from a search warrant ordering Facebook to "turn over all of the information in the accounts of 381 people, including private photos and conversations." According to the article, "[t]hat trove of information was used to obtain indictments for disability fraud against more than 130 police officers and other former public employees. Justice Jackson also prohibited Facebook from informing its customers about the searches. None of the people indicted have challenged the search warrants, and more than 108 have pleaded guilty." 


Written by:   Alexandra Siskopoulos, Esq.

Telephone:   (646) 942-1798

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Categories: Appellate Attorney News