Facebook's appeal to block bulk search warrants rejected

Facebook has lost a legal fight against the Manhattan district attorney who sought search warrants for hundreds of user accounts. Facebook sought to quash the warrants, calling them too broad and objecting to a prohibition against informing its users about them.

The case dates back to 2013 when search warrants for information on 381 Facebook accounts were issued as part of an investigation into the fraud case.

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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Photos, conversations and other information obtained through the warrants were used by the district attorney for Manhattan to indict 130 police officers and government employees who used fake or exaggerated ailments related to the fallout of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Writing for the appeals court, Judge Leslie Stein said it was up to targets of the warrants, not third parties such as Facebook, to challenge the warrants' validity.

The 5-1 decision, in which one judge recused himself, upheld a decision by a lower NY court that would not allow Facebook to appeal search warrants issued for user information in a criminal case.

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The warrants, issued under America's Stored Communications Act, were going after the Facebook "account information and communications" of those under investigation.

It's not the first defeat The Social Network™ has suffered in the case: its current appeal was trying to overturn a July 2015 ruling by the Manhattan state appeals court. In a statement, a spokesperson said the company was disappointed by the ruling and is continuing to evaluate its legal options. The court found that only users themselves have the right to challenge warrants in criminal proceedings.

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