back to article Facebook fails to block NY DA's fat warrants for profiles of suspected September 11 fraudsters

A decision by a New York judge means that people's Facebook profiles are an open book to prosecutors armed with a warrant, despite the firm's best efforts. Back in July 2013, the New York District Attorney obtained court warrants to access the full profiles and message databases of 381 NY Facebook users suspected of defrauding …

  1. icesenshi

    "None of these sources refer to an inherent authority for a defendant or anyone else to challenge an allegedly defective warrant before it is executed."

    No way to challenge a warrant's legality or defectiveness until it's it's executed. Then the government can say 'oops' but by that point it's too late. Only in America.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      @icesenshi - No way to challenge a warrant's legality or defectiveness until it's it's executed. Then the government can say 'oops' but by that point it's too late. Only in America.

      I *think* that the point is that all such evidence gets thrown out in court, and that is meant to be the guard against overly broad warrants.

      Of course the data has still leaked, and we don't trust the police to deal with is sensitively :(

  2. Keef

    We are all screwed.

    Do not have a FB account. No, that won't work

    Kill yourself, it's the only way out.

    If, like me, you want to carry on living until a natural end point then you have to pretty well admit you are being surveilled.

    Suck it up chumps. we don't live in a fair or free world and it's past the point where we can do anything about it

    All about fighting terrorism y'now, for our own good and all that.

    Bastards the lot of 'em.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We are all screwed.

      Do you want to go back and read that again? They aren't alleged terrorists, but alleged cheaters.

    2. Ole Juul

      Re: We are all screwed.

      "it's past the point where we can do anything about it"

      "Out of control" would be another way to word that.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge


    I've heard of that.

  4. tom dial Silver badge

    To describe the result somewhat differently, there seems to be exactly the same possibility to challenge a warrant for data before execution as there is, and has been, to challenge a warrant to search your house, car, or office. And I wonder if that might not be the case in quite a few places other than the US, to the extent that the question has been brought to a court and settled.

    As the court and article noted, the defendants are entitled to challenge the warrants after the fact and, if successful, suppress any evidence they revealed. And nothing prevents legislatures establishing additional constraints for the future, if they wish.

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      "suppress any evidence they revealed"

      That might be very much too late. Way back when was about the only anonymous remailer for posting to Usenet, someone posted some information which the Scientologists claimed as copyright. They got a search warrant for the real name of the poster to be revealed. Except the warrant actually was for the entire database of users.That would have revealed to the Co$ things like the actual names and emails of posters to a sexual abuse recovery newsgroup.

      Very fortunately the operator managed to persuade the police to only take the single entry. The possible consequences if he hadn't don't bear thinking about.

  5. h4rm0ny


    I doubt that its coincidence that the case they used to try and get this through has to do with 9/11. Trying to oppose something with 9/11 in the name in the USA is immediately three times as hard as it would be otherwise.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    For once, I am somewhat in agreement with Facebook

    "We continue to believe that overly broad search warrants – granting the government the ability to keep hundreds of people's account information indefinitely – are unconstitutional and raise important concerns about the privacy of people's online information"

    And I continue to believe that the overt hoovering of people's personal details - granting a private company the ability to record hundreds of thousands of people's private information without any judicial oversight whatsoever - is unconstitutional and raises important questions about the morality of such companies when their users have no guarantee that the company will actually delete their information if they delete their profile.

  7. Falmari

    Facebook above the law?

    I really don't see what Facebook's problem is here.

    Surely like the rest of the USA they have to comply with warrants.

    Seems to me it is no different from other warrants granted by judges to search a persons house or get access to records held by a company. Looks like a warrant granted in criminal case against USA citizens based in the US to search information stored in the USA held by a US company.

    Looks to me that Facebook want to be treated differently from the general public or other company's in regard to the law.

  8. launcap Silver badge


    No such word. Not in civilised[1] English anyway.

    [1] Rightpondian naturally. We invented^wdiscovered^Wgrew it by accident so it's ours dammit! I wonder if we can sue leftpondia for inappropriate use of our IP?

  9. enormous c word

    Jeeze, I really don't understand the problem here. I mean, if its on Facebook its public, why don't the NYPD just *friend* them, and get the Judge and Jury to do the same - no need for a warrant then - simples!!!

    I can imagine it now... sitting at home trawling Bacefook for kitty pictures... and suddenly:

    "NYPD sent you a friend request

    "Judge Judy" sent you a friend request

    (and 12 other brand-new friends)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least there is a warrant!

    The US laws against illegal search and seizure were a direct result of British Redcoats appropriating property before the Revolution. In various cases, peoples homes were searched for contraband without anything like a court order or warrant. In many cases these homes were "seized" and literally stolen by British troops. Plenty of good reasons to perpetuate those laws and require a warrant.

    In this case, the police want access to the Farcebook accounts of 381 people who are suspected of defrauding the federal and state governments by falsely claiming to be in some way injured or "disabled" by the September 11th attacks and stealing "social security" money . They even got a warrant to do so. (Unlike other agencies)

    Since morons post their whole lives on Farcebook, it is easy to see you have been doing things like water skiing when you told the SS review board you can hardly walk.

    If you think that is in anyway wrong, you are literally just as bad as they are; lying, thieving, cheats.

    This kind of behavior is just one reason why social security is running out of money.

    I WELCOME YOUR DOWNVOTES. Bring it on lying, thieving, cheats!

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