N.D.Iowa: Search of defendant’s entire Facebook account was overbroad for lack of temporal limitations

Search of defendant’s entire Facebook account was overbroad for lack of temporal limitations. United States v. Burkhow, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20319 (N.D. Iowa Feb. 6, 2020):

The Court finds that permitting the search of defendant’s entire Facebook account was broader than the probable cause on which the warrant was based. See Galpin, 720 F.3d at 445. The mere fact that the government could not determine when the alleged criminal conduct began does not justify a search without any temporal limitations. Some reasonable attempt could have been made to narrow the scope of this search, particularly by setting date limitations if not restrictions to specific account activities or interactions with particular persons. See Hamilton, 2019 WL 4455997, at *4. Such limitations need not have been strictly confined to the time frame the government was investigating given that the nature of the offense suggested established and ongoing criminal conduct. Such limitations, however, should have been reasonably tailored around that relevant time frame. See Summage, 481 F.3d at 1079 (noting that courts review the scope of a warrant for practical accuracy, not hypertechnical accuracy). Online activity defendant engaged in years ago-including everything from private messages to rejected friend requests to “pokes”-was not necessary to review under the circumstances here. The Court acknowledges that setting reasonable temporal limitations can be difficult and varies based on the specific facts of each case. Merely opting to review the entirety of a defendant’s social media profile, however, does little to avoid capturing private information that is highly unlikely to be relevant. Given that social media profiles often contain a wide array of personal data spanning years, some restriction here was necessary to prevent a general rummaging beyond limiting seizure to the offenses being investigated.

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