A New York City racketeering case garnered an interesting ruling that concerns facebook users. The defendant in the trial attempted to suppress evidence that was gathered from facebook to hand down his indictment.
The defendant used the legal defense that the information, which was obtained via an informant giving law-enforcement investigators access to the defendant’s facebook profile, violated his Fourth Amendment constitutional rights- which protects him against unreasonable search and seizure. However, the U.S. District Court Judge overruled this claim, stating that the FBI, are other law enforcement agencies, are entitled to view profile anyone’s facebook and collect evidence – as long as one of the facebook user’s friends gives law-enforcement investigators permission to do so.
Reportedly, the Judge compared such collection of data to a phone tap in which one person participating in the phone call allows the government to listen in without the consent of knowledge of the other party. The Judge reasoned that if this sort of phone tap is considered legal, so is gathering information via a person’s consenting facebook friend.