As part of a criminal investigation into disability fraud, the New York Appeals Court authorised the issue of search warrants for 381 suspected Facebook users. This is the largest number of warrants Facebook has ever received at one time. These search warrants grant the Manhattan District Attorney the ability to access and indefinitely hold all information on the Facebook accounts of the 381 users concerned – whether the individuals are found guilty or not.
In order to obtain the search warrants, Officers needed to prove to the Appeals Court there was 'probable cause' that a search could provide the necessary evidence to prove the suspected individuals' guilt of crime.
The New York Court found against Facebook's challenge to the search warrants for a variety of reasons that included that here was a greater public interest to prevent the criminal actions of the disability fraud and Facebook's prime arguments were ill-founded.
Although only 62 out of the 381 targeted individuals were charged with any crime, data obtained from Facebook through these search warrants led to indictments of police officers, civil servants and retired fire-fighters feigning mental illness.