Jul 212015

Patrick G. Lee reports that it was a bad day for user privacy in a New York state appeals court:

Facebook Inc. lost a bid to block the biggest set of search warrants the company said it ever received in a case that might affect the amount of information social-media sites turn over to law enforcement.


Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. obtained 381 warrants in 2013 as part of a Social Security fraud investigation. Facebook postings and other content — such as photos of suspects riding jet skis and performing mixed martial arts — provided Vance with evidence that helped bring charges last year against people accused of cheating the government by lying about their disabilities.

Of the 381 Facebook users that Vance targeted with the search warrants, 319 weren’t indicted, according to the ruling. Others were indicted without reliance on the Facebook warrants.

Even though Facebook had already complied with the search warrants, its appeal was allowed to continue in a case that has drawn the attention of Google Inc. and Twitter Inc., as well as the American Civil Liberties Union.

A New York state appeals court in Manhattan unanimously ruled on Tuesday that Facebook had no right to challenge Vance’s search warrants before they were executed.

Read more on Bloomberg.

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