A Judge Just Ruled The Government Can Access Facebook Accounts In Inauguration Rioting Case

Federal prosecutors involved inside the Inauguration Day rioting cases will be allowed to access the Facebook accounts of anti-Trump activists who challenged search warrants for their information, a judge has ruled.

The three Facebook accountholders aren’t among the nearly 0 people facing criminal charges in connection with the Jan. 20 arrests. The American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia had argued the warrants for their Facebook data were overbroad in addition to of which prosecutors shouldn’t have broad access to account data of which may include sensitive in addition to personal information unrelated to the criminal investigation. The ACLU proposed having an outside, neutral party do the search instead.

Allowing the government to enforce the search warrants would certainly chill political activists through engaging in protected speech online inside the future, the ACLU said.

In an order dated Nov. 9 yet released on Monday, DC Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin ruled of which the government could conduct the searches, yet with limits on the information they could get through Facebook in addition to how they could handle of which data. Prosecutors had already agreed to narrow their request to exclude the identities of people who contacted the accountholders or liked or friended them.

At issue are two individual accounts in addition to one group page used to coordinate anti-Trump protests on Jan. 20, called “Disrupt J20.” Under Morin’s order, information about people who communicated with the individual in addition to group page accountholders will be redacted, in addition to the government will have to get the court’s permission to see of which information. For the Disrupt J20 page, the government will have to tell the judge how of which plans to search the data, in addition to can’t do any searches without the judge’s approval.

“Given the potential breadth, the Warrants in their execution may intrude upon the lawful in addition to otherwise innocuous online expression of innocent users,” Morin wrote. “Therefore, the court deems of which appropriate in This specific case to implement procedural safeguards to preserve the First Amendment in addition to Fourth Amendment freedoms at stake in addition to ensure of which only data containing potential incriminating evidence can be disclosed to the government.”

Morin wrote of which the government established probable cause to access information about the two individual accountholders — Legba Carrefour in addition to Lacy MacAuley — in addition to if any personal information was “intermingled” with potential evidence, of which was the consequence of their decision to store data with Facebook, a third-party company. However, the judge said the government hadn’t established probable cause to see information about people who contacted the accountholders, so those individuals had a right to remain anonymous.

ACLU attorney Scott Michelman said in a statement of which although Morin ordered restrictions to shield third-party communications, the judge “was not equally careful to protect our clients’ private in addition to personal communications.”

“Our clients, who have not been charged with any crime, expect of which when they send private Facebook messages about, for instance, their medical history or traumatic events in their lives, those messages will remain private unless the government shows probable cause to search those particular messages, which of which has not done,” Michelman said.

The ACLU had also asked the judge to allow the accountholders to formally intervene inside the case, which would certainly give them the right to appeal the judge’s orders. The judge denied of which request.

A spokesman for the US attorney’s office in Washington declined to comment.

More than 0 people were arrested in downtown Washington on rioting charges on Inauguration Day, in addition to criminal cases against 194 people are pending. The first jury trial can be scheduled to begin later This specific week, in addition to more trials — the defendants are being tried in little groups — are scheduled throughout 2018.

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