NYCLU, Social Media Sites Join Facebook In Fight Over User Data Warrants

August 12, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

Facebook is currently fighting against disclosing user data — like photos, friend lists and private messages — to the authorities. Such warrants are being issued at an unprecedented rate, with nearly 400 in New York. The fight has been joined by four NY-based social media platforms — Tumblr, Kickstarter, Foursquare and Meetup, AP reports. The NYCLU and ACLU have also voiced their support for Facebook.

“With the burgeoning tech industry in New York, the need to protect the privacy of users has never been greater,” said former judge and current lawyer Richard Howell, who will be representing the companies.

The opposition says that investigators are justified in collecting this data. The warrants were spurred by alleged mass evidence of disabilities-benefit fraud.

Prosecutors have a right and a responsibility to collect evidence in criminal cases, wherever that information is stored,” said Manhattan district attorney spokeswoman Joan Vollero. Last year, a judge approved 381 of the 400 warrants as proof of fraud.

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.

Facebook disagrees that this wide a search is necessary. They said in June that the warrants are equal to searching “an entire neighborhood of nearly 400 homes.” (Photo: Wikipedia)