New York highest court rules police can seize user Facebook activity

New York highest court rules police can seize user Facebook activity

The New York Court of Appeals [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that law-enforcement can seize private Facebook [corporate website] account information. The court ruled [NY Post report] that Facebook could not contest the warrants and therefore the court could not decide the matter. The court found that only users themselves have the right to challenge warrants in criminal proceedings. However, while being forced to comply with search warrants seeking access to private accounts, Facebook cannot warn users about the disclosure. The case is a result of the Manhattan DA [official website] seeking search warrants in 2013 for the accounts of people in connection with a disability-benefits fraud case. Due to the gag order, the court has stated the only remedy for Facebook users is to sue for invasion of privacy after the fact. Facebook has kept open the possibility of taking the case to the US Supreme Court arguing that the case addresses unresolved issues about online privacy.

Governments around the world have re-examined their data privacy laws in the wake of a myriad of data leaks, including the Edward Snowden [JURIST backgrounder] leaks. National governments around the world have attempted [JURIST op-ed] to gain control over data transferred within their borders. In March the US House approved [JURIST report] a measure that would update US privacy laws in regards to e-mails and cloud storage. In October 2015 the European Court of Justice ruled [JURIST report] that EU user data transferred to the US was not sufficiently protected. In June 2015 a court in The Hague struck down [JURIST report] a Dutch law that allowed the government to retain telephone and Internet data of Dutch citizens for up to 12 months in an effort to combat terrorism and organized crime.