The D.C. branch of the ACLU is helping three anti-Trump activists fight what they say is an overly broad government demand for their personal Facebook data.
In “motion to quash” court documents filed this month, ACLU lawyers argue that letting federal investigators comb through the contents of individual Facebook pages amounts to an unjustified and unconstitutional invasion of privacy.
The motion concerns an ongoing case in which the DOJ has been seeking information related to protests and rioting during the January 20 inauguration of President Trump. Despite the fact that the case has been going on for months, the activists only recently learned that Uncle Sam is interested in their Facebook data. While Facebook typically tells users about government warrants, a gag order initially prohibited it from doing so in this case. Facebook challenged that order and the government ultimately agreed to allow it to disclose the warrants.
The three warrants require Facebook to disclose the entire contents of three Facebook accounts for a period of more than 90 days–a huge swath of information the ACLU says would include everything from intimate communications and chat messages to family photos and religious affiliations. Sensitive data of people affiliated with the activists would also be swept up. “The warrants therefore authorize a seizure that is overbroad and unreasonable,” the ACLU says.