Maryland Federal District Court upholds search warrant for Twitter account and holds CSLI is admissible pursuant to good faith exception.

The Defendant here is charged with mulitple counts of Willful Retention of National Defense Information in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 793(e). The Defendant raised a number of pre-trial issues, including a motion to suppress information based off of a search warrant executed on his Twitter account as well as cell site location information based on a Stored Communications Act order. The Defendant argued that the Twitter search warrant was not supported by probable cause and that the CSLI data required a search warrant.

The Court found that there was a substantial basis the finding of probable cause to issue the search warrant for information associated with the Defendant’s Twitter account. The affidavit provides that the Defendant’s Twitter messages in which he requested a meeting stated “shelf life, three weeks” — were sent just hours before what was purported to be stolen government property was advertised and posted on multiple online content-sharing sites, including Twitter (There is some text that is redacted, presumably because the information is classified or under a court order to remain sealed). The Court thought it was significant that the affiant averred that the Defendant was a former government contractor who had access to the information that appeared to be what was purported to be stolen government property that was publicly posted on the Internet. The Court also found that the good faith exception saves the warrants anyway.

In regard to the CSLI, the District Court found the Fourth Circuit decision of Chavez to be controlling and invoked the good faith exception.

A prior discussion of Chavez can be found here:

The case is United States v. Martin, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212314,
2018 WL 6606232 (D. MD) December 3, 2018.

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