E.D.N.Y.: Facebook warrants have to be broad; showing the crime under investigation is limit enough

If probable cause is shown, Facebook warrants have to be broad. There must be some attempt to limit by at least the crime under investigation, but the result will likely be production of the entire account. That is not unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. United States v. Liburd, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94440 (E.D. N.Y. June 5, 2018):

With respect to particularity, the Second Circuit “[has] not required specific search protocols or minimization undertakings as basic predicates for upholding digital search warrants, and [the Circuit] do[es] not impose any rigid requirements in that regard at this juncture.” United States v. Galpin, 720 F.3d 436, 451 (2d Cir. 2013). “Courts in this circuit have found warrants that allow a Facebook search limited by reference to an exemplary list of items to be seized and the crime being investigated to be sufficiently particularized.” United States v. Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, No. 15-CR-116 (NGG), 2015 WL 9450598, at *26 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 21, 2015). Here, the Court finds that the government has set forth adequate minimization procedures in Attachment B to the Facebook Warrant. (Kies Aff., Attachment B.) For instance, the Government sought to seize information related to the existence of, and communications among, the West End Enterprise and evidence regarding Hobbs Act robbery and robbery conspiracy. (Id.) “This description was sufficiently particular to allow the Government to examine the files it received from Facebook without violating the Fourth Amendment.” United States v. Meregildo, 883 F. Supp. 2d 523, 526 (S.D.N.Y. 2012); see also Pugh, 2015 WL 9450598, at *26-27 (finding that a Facebook warrant was not a “general search” where it was “narrowly tailored to the aim of the investigation;” namely, determining whether the defendant had attempted to join a terrorist group because “[p]lainly, knowledge regarding who [the defendant] communicated with, and the identities of those individuals, is pertinent to determining if [the defendant] attempted to join [a terrorist organization]”).

Additionally, the Court finds that the Facebook Warrant was not overbroad. It is “well-established that a search warrant can properly permit the Government to obtain access to electronic information for purposes of a search even where the probable cause showing does not apply to the entirety of the electronic information that is disclosed to the Government.” In the Matter of a Warrant for All Content & Other Info. Associated with the Email Account xxxxxxx@gmail.com Maintained at Premises Controlled By Google, Inc., 33 F. Supp. 3d 386, 393 (S.D.N.Y. 2014), as amended (Aug. 7, 2014). Here, because of the nature of digital media searches, it was proper for the search warrant to allow the FBI to search the entire contents of Defendant’s Facebook account, once Judge Levy determined that there existed probable cause to believe that evidence relating to Defendant’s criminal activity was contained in that account, even if the account also contained information unrelated to criminal activity. Indeed, in the context of Facebook searches, “courts in this circuit repeatedly have recognized that … avoiding the intrusiveness of a search while maintaining its efficacy is largely infeasible.” Pugh, 2015 WL 9450598, at *27 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 21, 2015) (collecting cases).

The Facebook Warrant, therefore, was not overly broad or lacking particularity.

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