A New York court ruled this week that Facebook cannot challenge search warrants on behalf of its customers, reaching a conclusion that could prove to have major consequences for social media users and Internet privacy as a whole.
The case started when New York prosecutors used Facebook to collect information on 381 users suspected of Social Security fraud, gathering evidence including photos and private messages. Facebook vehemently challenged the warrants, as did several other large tech companies. However, the court’s ruling this week means that warrants like these can only be challenged by the individuals involved in the case, not the companies. And that could have a huge effect on web privacy.
Though the ruling strikes a big blow against Facebook’s ability to protect users from law enforcement, the site may not accept it quietly; they are reportedly considering an appeal.
“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,” Jay Nancarrow, a spokesperson for Facebook, told The New York Times.
It was a good thing for users that Facebook stepped up for our rights in the court of law. Hopefully they continue fighting—even if they occasionally lose.