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ACLU Files Motion Against Warrant Seeking Personal Information From Facebook Page.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

filed a motion Wednesday against a search warrant obtained by the Whatcom County Sheriff's Department that asked for private information regarding a local group, the Bellingham #NoDAPL Coalition, which has a community page on Facebook. The group is said to be involved with protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline and works to support environmental justice.

"The warrant at issue here is deeply problematic and runs afoul of constitutional protections.  Political speech and the freedom to engage in political activity without being subjected to undue government scrutiny are at the heart of the First Amendment. Further, the Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from performing broad fishing expeditions into private affairs. And seizing information from Facebook accounts simply because they are associated with protests of the government violates these core constitutional principles," (https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-challenges-warrant-search-data-facebook-page-group-protesting-dakota-access-pipeline) said La Rond Baker, staff attorney at the ACLU of Washington.

The hearing for ACLU's motion has been scheduled for Tuesday at the Whatcom County Superior Court, the Bellingham # NoDAPL Coalition (https://www.facebook.com/bellinghamnodapl/posts/1215080605275072) said on its Facebook page . The search warrant seeking private information from Facebook asks for sensitive personal information that would include people's political opinions and images of their political actions and even their location, according to ACLU.

The Bellingham #NoDAPL Coalition's Facebook page was created by Neah Monteiro, a resident of Bellingham, Washington, in October 2016, who still administers the page. (https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/motion_to_quash_-_filed.pdf) According to the ACLU's motion , "The page is also used to organize political actions and as a platform to connect political activists. Much of the page can be viewed by the public, and as of March 7, 2017, 916 individuals or organizations had 'liked' the page. During the period covered by the search warrant, 14 individuals served as 'administrators' of the group's Facebook page, giving them the ability to publish posts, photos, videos, and events on the page and respond to messages as Bellingham #NoDAPL Coalition."

Brett Max Kaufman, an attorney with the ACLU's Center for Democracy, said such warrants "have far-reaching implications."

"Government requests for information protected by the First Amendment must meet a high bar in order to ensure that political speech and advocacy are not chilled. The Constitution gives wide berth to that kind of civic participation, and law enforcement must respect that space in carrying out its activities," Kaufman added.

The ACLU's motion challenged the search warrant calling it an illegal intrusion on people's rights (https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment) protected by the First Amendment.

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Mar 9, 2017
Words:442
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