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US Dist Ct Holds that Content on Social Networks Visible Only to Restricted Users is Protected

From Law Technology News via Law.com:

On May 26, a federal court issued an opinion in a discovery dispute that applies outmoded federal electronic privacy laws from the 1980s to Facebook and MySpace. The ruling could permanently change the way "social networking" sites are viewed by businesses and those involved in litigation. The decision also appears to offer the first in-depth analysis on the effect of "privacy settings" found on many social networking sites and whether information is protected from discovery by federal privacy laws.

Read the full article for more on the implications of the 1986 Stored Communications Act to today's social networks.


This is definitely an area that needs to debated and the laws updated to cover these social networking services that cross the lines between public and private.

When it comes to things posted on these sites, they are definitely not as private as emails since the point of publishing to them is for them to be read by a group of people that is exactly specified, which could range from a smallish circle of friends to the public at large.

In general, if there is a linkage of an action to illegal action, I think the information such as this should be made public to the court and/or law enforcement. Definitely in the case of criminal action, why protect alleged criminals to this level.

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