DC Police Order Facebook Give Up Inauguration Protesters’ Social Media Data

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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The Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department is demanding that Facebook hand over information it has on several protesters who were demonstrating against President Donald Trump’s inauguration last month.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia issued the subpoena to Facebook on Jan. 27, according to CityLab, a week after the official swearing-in ceremony.

“We have received legal process from law enforcement seeking information about your Facebook account,” the social media company wrote to at least one defendant, according to a letter obtained by CityLab.

More than 200 protesters were arrested and charged with rioting after protests on the day of the inauguration turned violent. Police felt compelled to deploy stun grenades, pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets after several people were throwing rocks, smashing windows and even setting a car and flags on fire. Six police officers were ultimately injured, according to CNN.

Police and prosecutors seem to need more information for the alleged perpetrators, specifically data on the social media platform, to either build a better case against the defendants or charge more people with crimes.

D.C. police are accused of seizing the phones of the people they arrested in order to search for evidence, according to The Verge. But authorities can request data from Facebook that they are unable to directly access themselves.

“A valid subpoena issued in connection with an official criminal investigation is required to compel the disclosure of basic subscriber records,” one of Facebook’s law enforcement guidelines reads. Requested records “may include: name, length of service, credit card information, email address(es), and a recent login/logout IP address(es), if available.”

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