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Judge Demands Email and Facebook Passwords From Women In Sexual Harassment Case 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-wants-to-go-like-his-own-posts dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Back in September, a U.S. judge ruled that a school district violated the First Amendment (freedom of speech) and Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search and seizure) rights of a 12-year-old student by forcing her to hand over her Facebook password to school officials who in turn used it to search for messages they deemed inappropriate. This month, another U.S. judge has ordered that women suing their employer for sexual harassment must hand over cell phones, passwords to their email accounts, blogs, as well as to Facebook and other social networks."
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Judge Demands Email and Facebook Passwords From Women In Sexual Harassment Case

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  • Re:Do as a I say... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:14PM (#42058677)

    Not at all.

    If you are suing, then cell phones, Facebook and email are all part of the evidence in the case. Without reading the sepcifics I cannot tell you why the judge wanted it.

    The teachers requiring a FB p/w were on a fishing expedition that went beyond the purview of their positions.

  • by DM9290 (797337) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:14PM (#42058681) Journal

    We'e seen a few stories recently like this, where a judge has demanded someone to turn over information that they've already agreed not to in a TOS.

    Was this ever resolved, whether a judge can order you to violate a TOS? Either it's legally binding or it's not. Not variable on who's asking or whether or not it's convenient. They need to make up their minds.

    Yes a judge can order you to violate a TOS. A judge's order obligates you and you can't be legally bound by contract to violate a judges order.

  • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by b5bartender (2175066) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:18PM (#42058723)
    The plaintiff was allegedly using facebook to make statements about the case and other events relevant to the case.
  • Re:Do as a I say... (Score:5, Informative)

    by AvitarX (172628) <me@brandywinehundre[ ]rg ['d.o' in gap]> on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:56PM (#42059211) Journal

    Usually in discovery you turn over data, often times even processed data (scans, copies, PDFs rather than original files).

    Redactions are very common. Handing over 100% of communication, relevant or not, completely ubredacted is NOT how things are supposed to work.

    note, always make sure to send a message to your lawyer with every account. They should then be able to argue that it contains priveledged info and needs to be turned over by the lawyer in a different format (not saying it will work, but It's worth a try).

    Back when records were physical, lawyers were given temporary, unrestricted, but observed access to documents, and able to ask for broad sections to be copied and sent based on what they saw.

    I think the facebook equivalent is to give access to the account supervised for x number of hours, and then allow requests to be made for all messages in this date range, or these people, etc.

  • Re:Do as a I say... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:05PM (#42059311)

    If you are suing, then cell phones, Facebook and email are all part of the evidence in the case. Without reading the sepcifics I cannot tell you why the judge wanted it.

    Also, TFA clearly states that the accounts are turned over to the forensics expert not to the defendant. Forensics expert hopefully being an impartial observer here - it's not like the defendant has their account to himself.

  • Re:Do as a I say... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jhoegl (638955) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:06PM (#42059343)
    I RTFA, it is a legit request.
    The plaintiffs were using it to communicate about the suit. It is their own ignorance that caused it.
  • by sirwired (27582) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:41PM (#42059683)

    You cannot avoid a lawfully issued subpoena (or warrant) by pointing at a contract saying you are obligated not to turn over the requested discovery/evidence. There are certain very limited communications not subject to subpoenas/warrants, and online posts with your friends aren't on that list. (Personal communications with doctors, lawyers, spouses, mental health professionals, and religious ministers are.)

    I can think of all sorts of malfeasance that could be hidden if a TOS magically inhibited the discovery process.

    The idea of a TOS is legally valid (although that does not stop it from containing invalid terms) but it does not override a court order.

  • Re:Do as a I say... (Score:5, Informative)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @05:12PM (#42059967)

    Actually, if you look at actual cases, it isn't a 'classical assumption' when it comes to sexual harassment suits. They tend to be a significant uphill battle with a lot of 'she is just sensitive, she is just selective, she is just taking advantage of the law' stuff thrown in.. it has disturbing similiarities to the arguments brought up to discredit rape victims.. including the BS 'but she uses that language' argument (which they seem to be fishing for here) since that is just a recasting of one of the common defenses against rape allegations.. 'well, she was a loose woman who slept around', as if somehow because she does something privately it means someone doing it to her non-consentually is ok.

    You should RTFA.

    One plaintiff is suing because of the word cunt. She can be seen wearing a shirt with the word cunt on it.
    Various plaintiffs are suing because they were fired and can't find employment. There are messages sent between them indicating they actualyl had job offers.
    There are also messages between the plaintiffs detailing their interactions with the defendants, their plans to sue, etc.

    This isn't victim blaming, it's bog standard evidence discovery.

  • Re:Do as a I say... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cederic (9623) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @07:45PM (#42061647) Journal

    Interesting, my interpretation was different.

    She's claimed abuse, yet perpetrates that abuse herself.
    She's claimed harrassment, yet has engaged in that behaviour.
    She's claimed loss, yet has stated she's benefited.

    It doesn't seem inappropriate that the court would seek clarity on these matters.

    I'd rather they demanded "all material" than passwords, and it would also make more sense: I don't know where the cellphone I owned in 2009 _is_, and I did a factory reset on it before I stopped using it. So it has no text messages, no email, etc. on it; giving it to the court is futile.

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