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06 April, 2017, 02:25 | Author: Jan Cross
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Manhattan prosecutors had obtained the search warrants issued by the New York Supreme Court under the Stored Communications Act in July 2013, which sought subscriber information and content for a criminal investigation into a Social Security disability fraud case.

Menlo Park, California-based Facebook challenged the warrants but the court ordered that the individuals have the right to challenge the warrant which asks for their information.

The case arose from 381 search warrants that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. obtained in 2013 while investigating a multimillion Social Security fraud perpetrated by police, firefighters and others who had been first responders when the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001.

The ruling is a setback for Facebook and other social media companies hoping to expand internet privacy protections for its users.

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"The information, which included photos and conversations, was used by the Manhattan District Attorney to obtain indictments for disability fraud against more than 130 people", the report said.

The court papers reveal that 62 Facebook users have already been indicted in the investigation.

Mariko Hirose, of the New York Civil Liberties Union, is disappointed the court didn't tackle the underlying issue of whether the subpoenas themselves were constitutional, WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported.

"To hold otherwise would be to impermissibly and judicially create a right to appeal in a criminal matter that has not been authorized by our legislature", Judge Leslie Stein wrote for the majority. The Appellate Division order was on Tuesday upheld by the Court of Appeals. One judge recused himself. As Reuters reports, the warrants "were created to uncover suspected widespread Social Security disability fraud by its customers". "But we are encouraged to see the thorough dissent that supports Facebook's position arguing for people's online privacy".

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