TRENTON -- A New Jersey appeals court ruled Thursday that direct messages and privacy-protected posts on social media platforms are not subject to state wiretapping laws, and can be searched with the obtainment of a communications data warrant by law enforcement.

Citing legal experts, reported that those warrants place a lower burden on authorities than do formal wiretap orders, which correspond to specific offenses and for which police must show they could not procure the information they seek by any other means.

The court's decision grew out of a case in Essex County about which little is known because records were impounded, according to the report. The three-judge panel agreed with prosecutors who argued that combing through, for instance, content posted on Twitter was not an "interception" of data because the data is already stored on the platform's servers and usually accessed by investigators after the fact, the report said.

Statistics released by Twitter show that from Jan. 1 to June 30 of last year, out of 2,520 information requests the company received for account information in the United States, only 76 originated in New Jersey.

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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