On April 4, 2017, the New York state Court of Appeals ruled that Facebook lacks legal grounds to seek to quash subpoenas for contents of the personal accounts of 381 Facebook users.The subpoenas, issued by the Manhattan district attorney’s office in 2013 sought information as part as an investigation of the validity of some New York City police officers’ and firefighters’ disability claims.

Facebook’s early attempts to quash the subpoenas were barred by lower courts in 2015 and Facebook turned over the information.However, the social media platform has continued to pursue its appeal in state court, aiming to protect its customers’ privacy expectations.Facebook also stated that the subpoenas violated the Stored Communications Act (SCA).

The majority of the court, finding that Facebook lacked standing to challenge the subpoenas, relied on the New York Criminal Procedure Law (CPL).According to the majority, the CPL does not grant Facebook specific authorization to challenge the subpoenas as a third party.By finding against Facebook on this threshold issue, the court did not reach the underlying Fourth Amendment issue concerning the privacy rights of account holders or any discussion about the SCA.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed amicus curiae briefs in support of Facebook.Various online platforms also filed amicus curiae briefs in support of Facebook.The full decision can be found here.