U.S. District Judge William Martini has ruled that police are allowed to create private Instagram accounts to follow suspects.
United States v. Daniel Gatson involves a man accused of perpetrating burglaries in New Jersey taking primarily jewelry worth over $3 million. According to an FBI agent on the case, Gatson “used the Instagram account to display photographs of himself with large amounts of cash and jewelry, which were quite possibly the proceeds from his burglaries.” Police used the photo evidence to obtain a search warrant for Gatson’s home.
Gatson tried to get the evidence thrown out, saying it violated his Fourth Amendment Rights against unreasonable search and seizure. U.S. District Judge William Martini ruled that since Gatson “approved” the agent’s friend request, “No search warrant is required for the consensual sharing of this type of information.”
As part of their investigation into Gatson and other co-conspirators,
law enforcement officers used an undercover account to become Instagram “friends” with Gatson.
Gatson accepted the request to become friends. As a result, law enforcement officers
were able to view photos and other information Gatson posted to his Instagram account.
No search warrant is required for the consensual sharing of this type of information.
See generally U.S. v. Meregildo, 883 F. Supp. 2d 523 (S.D.N.Y. 2012).
Gatson’s motion to suppress the evidence obtained through the undercover account will be denied.
U.S. District Judge William Martini