Trump admin targets private Facebook info in warrants
Sep 30 2017
The Justice Department has filed three search warrants that would grant it access to personal information of approximately 6,000 Facebook accounts that liked an anti-Donald Trump page.
Talarico, who runs the "Resist This" Facebook page and has not been charged with an inauguration-related crime, wrote on Facebook that she discovered there was a warrant for the account's info after reading a Buzzfeed article published on September 13.
Trump's Department of Justice first sought the information it's asking from Facebook in February, Michelman told CNN.
Although the page is public, the warrant would require the disclosure of non-public lists of people who planned to attend political organizing events and even the names of people who simply liked, followed, reacted to, commented on, or otherwise engaged with the content on the Facebook page. While Facebook typically tells users about government warrants, a gag order initially prohibited it from doing so in this case.
The DisruptJ20 Facebook page, which has since been renamed Resist This, was liked by almost 6,000 users whose pages all could be investigated under the warrants, NBC reported.
"Permitting government officials to comb through 90 days" worth of personal messages concerning political activity and associations - some of which are aimed at protesting the policies of the very administration on whose behalf the government officials would be acting in searching Intervenors' records - is an unjustified invasion of privacy hearkening back to the "general warrants' that the Fourth Amendment was enacted specifically to prohibit", the ACLU said.
One of those users, Emmelia Talarico, operated the disruptj20 page where Inauguration Day protests were organized and discussed; the page was visited by an estimated 6,000 users whose identities the government would have access to if Facebook hands over the information sought in the search warrants.
Requested data would go back to November 1, 2016, a week before the presidential election.
None of the three people in the ACLU filing has been charged by the US attorney with Inauguration Day-related crimes in which more than 200 people were arrested and accused of rioting. The DOJ tried to place a gag order on Facebook, but Facebook challenged that, and the DOJ dropped that element of this case, which allowed Facebook to let those being targeted know what was happening. It doesn't matter, according to the ACLU, that prosecutors will only "seize" information they deem relevant to the investigation. You may recall the flap earlier this month over a search warrant served on the website hosting service DreamHost, demanding a raft of information about DreamHost client www.disruptj20.org, which acted last January as a clearinghouse for inauguration protests. DreamHost fought DOJ in court and succeeded in having limitations put on what information it has to give the government. Facebook challenged that order and the government ultimately agreed to allow it to disclose the warrants.
The digital address of visitors and unpublished posts on the forum were protected from government prying, LawNewz reported.