Trump administration orders Facebook to hand over private information on ‘anti-administration activists’

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A legal challenge warns of stifling online speech

Protesters block an entry point before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017 REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

The Department of Justice has demanded Facebook turn over information about three anti-Trump activists, drawing a legal challenge from civil liberties advocates who say the government is overreaching by seeking vast amounts of personal information.

Warrants issued by the US Attorney for the District of Columbia in February asked Facebook to detail the activities of three users who spearheaded mass protests of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, as well as information about the page they used to plan the demonstrations. More than 200 people were arrested as violence flared in otherwise peaceful gatherings.

Citing “evidence of rioting or intent to riot”, the sweeping requests ask Facebook to disclose all personal information of the organizers, including their passwords and physical addresses, as well as all activity associated with their accounts, any photos or videos they uploaded or any messages they sent. A separate warrant asks Facebook to reveal information about users who interacted with a page used to plan the protests.

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