Appellate Attorneys for Facebook Unable to Block Bulk Search Warrants

Posted on 6 April, 2017 at 10:00

Appellate attorneys for Facebook were unsuccessful in challenging search warrants issued regarding user's accounts. According to the New York Times, the New York Court of Appeals issued a decision holding that Facebook had "no right to ask an appellate court to quash search warrants ordering the company to hand over information from hundreds of accounts in a disability fraud case." The search warrants ordered Facebook to turn over "all of the information in the accounts of 381 people, including private photos and conversations."

Facebook challenged the search warrants arguing that the search warrants violate the constitutional rights of its users including the right to privacy and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. The lower court refused to quash the search warrants and Facebook appealed. Facebook had previously been denied relief in its first appeal and then sought further review in the Court of Appeals. On appeal, amicus briefs were filed by Google, LinkedIn, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The lower court refused to quash the warrants on the grounds that Facebook is merely as service provider and raising constitutional issues on behalf of its clients was the equivalent of a landlord of a storage facility seeking to quash warrants based upon the constitutional issues of the people who rent the storage units. The lower court also noted that the evidence of fraud detailed in the 96 page affidavit submitted in support of the warrants justified issuing mass search warrants. The warrants were issued "to to obtain indictments for disability fraud against more than 130 police officers and other former public employees. None of the people indicted challenged the search warrants."

The Court of Appeals held that search warrants cannot be appealed and can only be challeged by defendants in a pretrial hearing. The court held that because no right to appeal lies from search warrants, the court did not need to address the constitutional issues raised by Facebook.

Written by:    Alexandra Siskopoulos, Esq.

Telephone:    (646) 942-1798

Email:           [email protected]

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Categories: Appellate Attorney News