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Judge Makes Divorcing Couple Swap Facebook Passwords 332

PolygamousRanchKid writes with news of a recent court order during divorce proceedings: both parties must give their social networking passwords to the other, so that each side can snoop for evidence. From the article: "Everyone knows that evidence from social networking sites comes in handy for lawsuits and divorces. Attorneys usually get that material by visiting someone’s page or asking that they turn over evidence from their page, not by signing into their accounts. But judges are sometimes forcing litigants to hand over the passwords to their Facebook accounts. Should they be? What was the reason behind the court-authorized hacking in the Gallion case? ... While all may be ‘fair’ in love and war (and personal injuries), password exchanges like this are not kosher according to Facebook’s terms of service. I wonder if Judge Shluger is aware that his order violates Facebook’s TOS, which require that users not hand over their passwords to anyone else. Shluger did, at least, try to limit the privacy invasiveness of his order by telling the parties not to prank each other. 'Neither party shall visit the website of the other’s social network and post messages purporting to be the other,' he included in the order."
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Judge Makes Divorcing Couple Swap Facebook Passwords

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  • Terms of Service (Score:5, Informative)

    by CmdrPony ( 2505686 ) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @01:50PM (#38035588)

    I wonder if Judge Shluger is aware that his order violates Facebook’s TOS

    Why the hell would he care?

  • Re:divorce (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nailer235 ( 1822054 ) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @02:00PM (#38035666)

    Well, I will probably looking at a divorce in a year's time or so, and if I was ordered to turn over my facebook password my very first action would be to delete my profile.

    Then you would potentially face penalties for spoilation of evidence in which case you could potentially face imprisonment and a jury would be permitted to "assume the worst." Good job. (Note: I am NOT a lawyer and I am NOT offering legal advice)

  • Re:divorce (Score:3, Informative)

    by eudas ( 192703 ) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @02:09PM (#38035736)

    1) You should probably delete your profile ahead of time, then.
    2) I'm pretty sure that if you took the action to "delete your profile" with such a short turnaround time, then the spouse's login to your FB account would undo the "delete" action, anyway. Logging in to a FB account during the "deletion waiting period" cancels the deletion.

  • Re:divorce (Score:5, Informative)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Saturday November 12, 2011 @02:16PM (#38035776) Homepage
    They wouldn't throw you in jail but you could face sanctions for doing it. Word of advice for dealing with judges, do NOT try to pick holes in their orders like that.
  • Re:Passwords, keys (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wrath0fb0b ( 302444 ) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @02:27PM (#38035840)

    Why not also require them to make copies of their house keys for each other so they and their lawyers can go into each other's houses any time they want and rummage through each other's files, look for evidence of affairs in their bedrooms, look for property not reported in the divorce proceedings, look for signs of alcohol or drugs or depression or other personal factors that might have some bearing on the case?

    They can. It's called discovery, and it's one of the most useful tools for civil litigants because it forces the adversary to disclose (or assert under legal penalty that it doesn't exist) any documents relevant to a particular trial. So if you sue some corporation for selling you a defective widget, you can force them to turn over all emails and notes about quality-testing or safety testing for that widget. Without it, you'd have absolutely no way to prove (e.g.) that Sally in engineering sent an email to her boss explaining that the flux capacitor supplier they chose was cutting corners and that it could cause device failure and you could basically never make a case for knowing indifference. Or if you are suing that corporation for violating the GPL and you have reason (binary similarity) to believe that product X contains GPL code, you can demand they turn over that source code for inspection. Again, without it, you would never be able to prove a GPL violation because that source code would be locked inside some secure internal server and you would be forced to make some equivocal claim about the binaries instead of looking at the plain evidence.

    A divorce case is (in the eyes of the law, which has this odd thing about procedure being uniform) no different -- each party is entitled to any document or file, electronic or paper, that's relevant to the divorce. That includes anything inside your house, anything in your bedroom, unreported property*, hospitalization records. If it has a bearing on the case, the parties are absolutely entitled to it (under restrictions mind you, public disclosure of any information derived from discovery subjects you to criminal and civil sanctions plus is a great way to get the judge ticked off at you).

    * I used to work the tech side of things for an investigation firm involved in the child-support end of divorces (long after the litigation ended) looking for evidence that parties exaggerated or even fabricated their claims of poverty when accused of nonpayment or underpayment. Some of these guys would come in to court pleading that they had no disposable income only to find our pictures of them at strip joints getting lap dances. Concealing assets and income from the court can land you in jail for contempt. Don't do it.

  • Re:Terms of Service (Score:3, Informative)

    by CmdrPony ( 2505686 ) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @03:15PM (#38036130)
    The court order isn't directed or served to Facebook.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!