The Justice Department is demanding that Facebook release information from accounts that could provide access to the personal information of thousands of individuals who expressed interest in anti-Trump rallies.
The ACLU said that the search warrants obtained by DOJ target three Facebook accounts that have been used to organize Inauguration Day protests against President Donald Trump.
The ACLU states that by accessing those accounts officials could have access to names, employment information, telephone numbers, and more fore any of the thousands of people who “liked” the page or events.
“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 at ACLU. “When law enforcement officers can comb through records concerning political organizing in opposition to the very administration for which those officers work, the result is the chilling of First Amendment-protected political activity.”
The warrants were issued as part of an ongoing DOJ case against protestors who allegedly broke laws during President Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration in Washington.
Prosecutors state that the website, DisruptJ20.org, was used in the organization of “a violent riot.” One of the search warrants was issued for the DisruptJ20 Facebook page, which has since been renamed Resist This.
In a motion filed in U.S. Superior Court in Washington on Thursday the ACLU states that the warrant requires the group moderator to disclose “nonpublic lists of people who planned to attend political organizing events and even the names of people who simply liked, followed, reacted to, commented on or otherwise engaged with the content on the Facebook page.” That could mean disclosing personal information for over 6,000 users who interacted with the page between Nov. 1, 2016 and Feb. 9, 2017.
The two other warrants specifically target Facebook profiles of Lacy MacAuley and Legba Carrefour and would require Facebook to disclose all information from their personal Facebook profiles from Nov. 1, 2016, through Feb. 9, 2017, including “all private messages, friend lists, status updates, comments, photos, video and other private information solely intended for the users’ Facebook friends and family, even if they have nothing to do with Inauguration Day,” the ACLU said.