Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ithaca DWI Lawyer: Just How Safe is Your Social Media?

Whenever we have someone charged with a drug and/or alcohol related offense we ask that they take down their social media accounts. This is for a number of reasons but the main one being do you want the government looking at your Facebook page? Are there pictures or comments online that you would rather not have misinterpreted. Many people these days post pictures of themselves smoking marijuana, using drugs, and partying. Even posting talk (truth or fiction) about how messed up YOU got at an event or party can cast you in a bad light with the prosecution or a judge.

So just how accessible are your "private" or "public" social media accounts?

New York City Prosecutor Gets Complete Access to Facebook Accounts

A groundbreaking case recently went to New York State's highest court. The Manhattan District Attorney asked Facebook for complete access to hundreds of their users accounts. This "private" information was initially blocked by Facebook but DA Vance pressed on and won his right to unbridled access to Facebook.

This is a huge victory for the government but normally any search warrant has to be specific. The warrant has to state at this time and this place we are looking for this specific  information. Judges just don't give full access to records? or do they? Vance demanded a lot and GOT IT!!

After DA Vance's oral argument in front of the Court of Appeals the judges gave in to his demands. He was looking at 381 members of the NYPD and FDNY who are alleged to have submitted fraudulent disability claims. This broad search was the first of it's kind.
Judge Jenny Rivera highlighted the concern expressed by Facebook — that the bulk warrant was an overly broad intrusion into citizens’ personal lives. Judge Rivera cited “the magnitude and the significant intimate details that become available with a keystroke.” Vance countered that “law enforcement is always going to be bumping up against people’s privacy, that is the nature of what we do in gathering evidence.” Facebook lawyer Thomas Dupree Jr. retorted that “the DA’s ultimate position in this case is chilling. Under his view he could seize the entire digital lives of everyone in New York City.” Dupree added that the “voluminous number” of warrants, for 381 accounts, was “a major red flag.” “No one has ever seen anything like it,” he said.
                                                                                              The New York Post

What that means of the rest of us is that your privacy on social media accounts is never a given. 

You should assume that it can be seen and it will be seen. Your privacy is NO longer safe online, if it ever was.

Now although this case and situation are outside the norms of what happens daily in Judges issuing search warrants it gives an indication of what the future holds. I like to look at directions, as in what direction are we heading or moving towards. This Court decision speaks to a bad direction for us as to privacy on social media and any online accounts.

Your 4th amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure is under attack by the government. Guard Your privacy and don't assume online accounts are only for you, family, and friends. This is going to be an ongoing battle being fought day to day in the Courts and our lives.