The warrants would allow the government access to thousands of pages of anti-administration protesters but, according to LawzNews, the warrants specifically target three Facebook users who, their attorneys claim, are "anti-administration activists who have spoken out at organized events, and who are generally very critical of this administration's policies".
One of these users is Emmelia Talarico, admin for the "disruptj20" page that has already made itself an enemy with the Justice Dept. for organizing and discussing inauguration day protests.
Facebook was served with the warrants in February 2017 which included a gag order which prevented Facebook from informing the three users of the warrants.
"Government agents would discover a detailed portrait of individuals' political activities and associations, including their political views and commentary; the pictures and names of individuals who participated in or organized political demonstrations, rallies, dance parties, teach-ins, and other political events; messages reflecting a user's involvement or affiliation with specific political organizations or groups; and political or organizational strategies for political activism - all regarding events unconnected to January 20", the ACLU brief said.
In a court filing this week on behalf of three Facebook users, the American Civil Liberties Union said the warrants are too broad and would reveal private information about individuals unrelated to the investigation, in addition to the names of Facebook users who "liked" the public page of a group that helped plan the protests. However, Facebook fought it and the case was dropped by the government on September 14, allowing those targeted to be informed.
"Opening up the entire contents of a personal Facebook page for review by the government is a gross invasion of privacy", said Scott Michelman, a senior staff attorney with ACLU-DC.
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Facebook does not object to the effort to stop the searches, according to court records filed Thursday in D.C. Superior Court.
Naturally, the ACLU is standing up to this, and is representing the activists in the case. Carrefour is a self-described political activist and pushed back against the search warrant in court filings, saying that his Facebook account "contains a significant amount of private material concerning my personal life".
"The Fourth Amendment prohibits "exploratory rummaging" by the government in a person's digital information, particularly when First Amendment-protected political and associational material is implicated", the ACLU said. DreamHost fought DOJ in court and succeeded in having limitations put on what information it has to give the government.
Prosecutors also requested information from disruptj20.org, "s web host, DreamHost, on the protest website's more than 1 million visitors".
The legal wrangling over the so-called gag order took place behind closed doors in sealed court documents. "However, the court also ordered strict oversight for how the Justice Department could comb through the data it received, and forbade it from sharing the information with other government agencies".