Whatcom County drops warrant for data from protesters’ Facebook page

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People protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline blocked northbound Interstate-5 near Bellingham Saturday. February 11, 2017. (Credit: Werdna Eckels)

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — A sheriff’s search warrant that sought private Facebook data as part of an investigation into a Dakota Access oil pipeline protest has been withdrawn after an American Civil Liberties Union challenge.

The ACLU of Washington said in a news release that the Whatcom County prosecutor on Monday withdrew the search warrant obtained by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

The ACLU filed a motion challenging the constitutionality of the warrant last week. The warrant was for data on the Bellingham #NoDAPL Coalition Facebook page, including private communications.

It also sought data related to individuals who merely interacted with the group around a Feb. 11 Bellingham protest against the pipeline.

Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said previously the purpose of the warrant was to seek electronic data that related to chaotic, disruptive and criminal behavior.