The New York Times reports about a recently-unsealed challenge by Facebook attempting to block a search warrant issued by a New York City judge. The case raises a novel and interesting question: If an Internet provider is served a warrant for a customer account, can the provider litigate the constitutionality of the warrant pre-enforcement on its customer's behalf? Facebook says yes; the New York trial judge said no. I think the judge reached the correct result under current law. With that said, I think reasonable people could disagree on what the legal rule should be. Here are some thoughts on both current law and where the law should go.
I. The facts
Here are the facts we know so far, based on the limited documents made available. The Manhattan District Attorney's office was conducting a large-scale investigation into a massive fraud scheme involving disability benefits. Investigators came to believe that proof of the disability fraud would be found in individual Facebook accounts.