New York, N.Y. – This morning, the New York State Court of Appeals agreed to hear a case brought by Facebook opposing overbroad government demands for user data. The central question is whether Facebook has the legal standing to challenge a batch of search warrants compelling the social media company to turn over all information related to 381 users as part of a disability fraud investigation. Lower courts had ruled against Facebook, prompting an appeal to New York’s highest court to decide the issue.
In October, the Brennan Center for Justice and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed an amicus brief in support of Facebook that highlighted the significant privacy implications of this case. As the Center argued, it is critical for the Court of Appeals to correct the lower court’s decision, which “threatens the constitutional rights of hundreds of Facebook users, ignores Facebook’s role in copying and seizing the data, and eliminates Facebook’s ability to protect its users from unlawful government intrusion.”
“Someone must be able to challenge these bulk search warrants,” said Michael Price, an author of the amicus brief and Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. “If not Facebook, and not its users, then there’s no accountability, nothing to prevent the government from seizing and stockpiling highly personal data en masse.”
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