Reporting on the legal fight between Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, Bloomberg reporter Sarah Frier discussed as to how Facebook is forced to reveal data on hundreds of its users.
The legal dispute relates to details of around 381 people who were government employees and who had declared themselves to be physically disabled due to work-related injuries or were said to be suffering from mental disorders.
Some of the former government employees are said to be making false disability claims with the Social Security system and committing a serious fraud.
The government aims to target these people through their Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) accounts, which shows them in healthy condition and also shows them getting involved in various outdoor activities which cannot be done by people with disabilities.
“They went straight to Facebook, they said we want data on hundreds of people, and Facebook couldn’t tell the people, so they couldn’t let the people stand up for themselves or even give them a warning and they had to turn it over. They couldn’t deny the government that information because the Fourth Amendment rights were not their own.”
By referring to the Fourth Amendment rights, Frier meant that the right to fight the data demands were not with Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) but the respective users only.
Moreover, a New York court has ruled that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is a mere online repository of information and is not the target of its investigation and hence it cannot fight the data demands. Speaking on a similar event, Frier pointed out to Facebook’s denial to share user information at the time of ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest when the government had asked for the same.
Frier suggested that these incidents are a reflection of how governments are increasingly tapping user information which is stored online, for various investigations. According to her, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has already given the data and is in the process of claiming it back from government authorities.
The government employees under question includes a number of retired police officers, firefighters and other civil servants who filed fake claims of disability to avail Social Security benefits.