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

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:14PM (#42058683)

    So a woman claims sexual harassment, states that all the evidence is on her phone, email and facebook, and we're supposed to be outraged that the judge wants the evidence?

    Yes, I checked the linked articles to make sure, downmod me for that, but without providing this information the accuser has no case whatsoever.

    I'm impressed that the judge actually wants the evidence, most of the lawsuits that get to Slashdot seem to show judges who ignore all evidence and go with whatever lawyer has the prettiest tie that day.

  • by Old97 ( 1341297 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:21PM (#42058763)
    The judge will be determining if there is anything on Facebook relevant to the case. If so he'll let the defense see it. If not, they won't get it. That's what judges are for. Seems fair.
  • by sphantom ( 795286 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:21PM (#42058769)

    I don't disagree that all pertinent evidence should be gathered to prove or disprove a case, but the correct course of action here is for the judge to issue a warrant to the respective carriers/sites for the necessary information. Asking for someones passwords for evidence is like asking for someone's ATM PIN code to get their financial records.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:26PM (#42058829) Journal

    Fuck you and your terrorism fear mongering. Seriously, just fuck you. People like you are a far bigger threat to our freedom than any terrorist.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:28PM (#42058859) Journal
    Set aside the wisdom or its lack of judges ordering passwords to accounts to be disclosed in discovery. Imagine the havoc a blundering people unfamiliar with the service with a full access password. Imagine cops planting evidence too. It is a nightmare.

    As a first step we should demand "read only" access passwords from our service providers. Almost all the accounts, from trivial throwaway email accounts to brokerage/mutual fund accounts holding hundreds of thousands of dollars offer just one level of access. Either you get full access to do anything you damn well please, or nothing. If we have a "valet key" access with limited privileges at least we can be sure these cops or judges won't be able to mess it up.

    Other benefits include third party services that can watch for bills being posted, bills being paid on trime, or do investment portfolio analysis etc. E-Trade used to have something similar. They had a regular password and then a second "trading password" to invoke non-const member functions like ordering funds transfer or to buy/sell securities. But, sadly, they took it away.

  • Re:I didn't RTFA but (Score:4, Interesting)

    by niado ( 1650369 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:40PM (#42059021)

    Were these women sexually harassed on FaceBook ? If not it has nothing to do with the case.

    Uh, false?

    Certainly there are numerous ways that facebook communications could have something significant to do with the case, without being the specific venue for harassment.

    If only the article mentioned something specifi...OH LOOK:

    Statements that discuss her financial expectations in [the] lawsuit; a photograph of herself wearing a shirt with the word “CUNT” in large letters written across the front (a term she alleges was used pejoratively against her, also alleging that such use offended her); musings about her emotional state in having lost a beloved pet as well as having suffered a broken relationship; other writings addressing her positive outlook on how her life was post-termination; her self-described sexual aggressiveness; statements about actions she engaged in as a supervisor with Defendant . . . ; sexually amorous communications with other class members; her post-termination employment and income opportunities and financial condition . . .

  • by Old97 ( 1341297 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:53PM (#42059165)

    The insidious implication of this ruling is that there is likely to be evidence in someone's Facebook or email. that pertains to a sexual harassment case, sight unseen.

    You didn't read the article did you? Sight unseen? Of course it is sight unseen.. That's why the judge wants to see it - not to pass judgement on the case but to determine if there is anything there that will support the defense - as the defense alleges there is. If the judge finds that whatever is there is irrelevant then the defense cannot get access to it. If the plaintiff wants to avoid this then she can drop her complaint.

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:03PM (#42059293)

    Right, the judge can't force the women to hand over access. He can say "hand over access or have your case thrown out for insufficient evidence", though.

  • by Tony ( 765 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:20PM (#42059473) Journal

    Nice slut-shaming.

    It doesn't matter if the plaintiff enjoys sex, or is flirty with some people, or anything else. If she was sexually harassed at work, she has a case. Her dress, her sexual conduct outside the office, and her general attitudes make no difference to the question of sexual harassment.

  • Re:Do as a I say... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jythie ( 914043 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:49PM (#42059773)
    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.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"