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Facebook loses challenge to bulk search warrants

The social network hoped to quash warrants in connection with a disability fraud investigation related to the 9/11 attacks.

Facebook had sought to quash warrants for users' information in connection with a criminal fraud investigation.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

New York state's highest court has rejected Facebook's challenge to bulk search warrants that require the social media giant to turn over information from hundreds of user accounts in connection with a fraud investigation.

The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld lower court rulings finding that under New York law, Facebook lacked standing to challenge search warrants in a criminal case on behalf of its clients, The New York Times reported. Facebook sought to quash the warrants, calling them too broad and objecting to a prohibition against informing its users about them.

The ruling is a setback for Facebook and other social media companies hoping to expand internet privacy protections for its users. Microsoft, Google and Twitter, as well as internet privacy advocates such as the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, supported Facebook's appeal.

The search warrants for information on 381 Facebook accounts were issued in 2013 as part of an investigation into a disability fraud case. The information, which included photos and conversations, was used by the Manhattan district attorney to obtain indictments for disability fraud against more than 130 retired police officers and other former public employees accused of feigning illness after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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