A state appeals court ruling this week has big privacy implications.
A New York state court ruled Tuesday that Facebook must comply with search warrants allowing government prosecutors to sift through users’ photos, messages and personal account information as part of an investigation of Social Security fraud.
The appeals court ruling said that the social network cannot challenge search warrants for 381 users’ Facebook data, although individual defendants can move to suppress the evidence. New York law enforcement agents have used Facebook photos showing public employees riding jet skis, playing golf and performing martial arts to prove that the defendants were lying about physical disabilities, Reuters reports.
“In many cases, evidence on their Facebook accounts directly contradicted the lies the defendants told to the Social Security Administration,” a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office told Reuters.
So far, 108 people have pleaded guilty to felony charges, and they must pay back about $25 million, according to Bloomberg.
A Facebook spokesman told Reuters that the company—which has argued that the search warrants give prosecutors too much access to private information—is considering an appeal.