The defendant in United States v. Meals sought to suppress evidence obtained when Facebook monitored his inappropriate online communication. His conviction was affirmed: “Under the private search doctrine, when a private actor finds evidence of criminal conduct after searching someone else’s person, house, papers, and effects without a warrant, the government can use the evidence, privacy expectations notwithstanding.” And while a federal statute “mandates reporting child exploitation on internet platforms to the [National Center for Missing and Exploited Children], … it neither compels nor coercively encourages internet companies to search actively for such evidence” and thus did not bring Facebook within a “government agent” exception to the private-search doctrine. No. 20-40752 (Dec. 30, 2021).
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