The New Jersey Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that law enforcement must obtain a wiretap warrant in order to monitor an individual’s social media activity. The decision, which was issued in the case of Facebook, Inc. v. State, was a victory for privacy advocates who argued that the government’s surveillance powers should not extend to social media.
In the case, law enforcement sought to obtain access to a social media user’s data through a standard search warrant. Law enforcement argued that because the data could only be provided at 15-minute intervals, it did not fall under the purview of the wiretap statute.
The Supreme Court disagreed, finding that the 15-minute intervals were “akin to real-time surveillance” and that the level of intrusion into the user’s privacy was the same. The Court also noted that the wiretap statute was enacted in part to protect individuals from the “considerably more intrusive” practice of real-time surveillance.
The decision does not prohibit law enforcement from obtaining court approval to monitor social media user information in public places. However, it does place more stringent requirements on when such surveillance is permissible.
Facebook, along with amicus participants the ACLU and the New Jersey State Bar Association, praised the decision as a victory for individual rights and privacy interests.
The decision is a significant step in protecting the privacy of social media users. It sends a clear message to law enforcement that they cannot simply rely on standard search warrants to obtain access to social media data. Instead, they must meet the more stringent requirements of the wiretap statute. This will help to ensure that social media users’ privacy is protected from government intrusion.