Judge Demands Disclosure of Private Facebook Photos

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Judge Demands Disclosure of Private Facebook Photos

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The British Columbia Supreme Court doesn't care about your Facebook privacy settings.

In November 2008, Tamara Fric, who at the time was a law school student at the University of Victoria, was involved in a motor vehicle collision which left her with injuries including "chronic severe headaches, injury and pain to the upper back and neck pain." She claims that she remains in "substantially" the same amount of pain today as she was three years ago, telling a B.C. court that the accident has had a negative impact on her physical, social and academic life and also imposed limits on her "employability."

The defendants in the case, however, believe that Fric's claims are overstated and that post-accident Facebook photos of vacations and participation in the university's social/sports tournament "Law Games" prove that she's not as physically limited as she purports. Fric had 759 photos on Facebook at last check but her profile is set to "private," so only her 890 Facebook friends can see them. Yet while being careful with her privacy settings may protect her from run-of-the-mill Facebook creepers, it's not going to do her much good against the long arm of the law.

Despite her argument that the request for the photos was overly broad and that forcing disclosure would violate her right to privacy as well as that of everyone else on Facebook, the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that the photos should be disclosed. "Photographs which show the plaintiff engaging in a sporting or physical recreational activity - from hiking to scuba diving to curling to dancing - are relevant in discovering the plaintiff's physical capacity since the accident," said Supreme Court Master Carolyn Bouck. "I do not agree with the plaintiff's submission that such information is only relevant when there is a claim or evidence of total disability."

The specifics of the case are more or less incidental; what's noteworthy is the court's disregard for social network privacy. That's not necessarily surprising - "I set my profile to private" is hardly the most Darrow-esque defense ever - but it should nonetheless serve notice to everyone who posts photos on the internet: Privacy ain't necessarily private.

Source: The Province

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Dear people in positions of power:
Either learn about computers, games and technology, or leave them alone.
Signed,
The Internet

I bet the graphics suck as much as the story. Do not want.

The main thing I got from this is that she's STILL FACEBOOK FRIENDS WITH THE PEOPLE SHE'S SUING.

WHY?!

(I conclude this because the photos are set to "private", but the defendants claim to know their contents.)

Qualifying photos visible to 890 people as "private" is stretching the definition of private to beyond ridiculous. I appreciate that's not the point but no one has 890 close personal friends.

Leaving potentially incriminating images up on Facebook is, however, almost the precise dictionary definition of "imbecilic".

It's funny cuz she's an idiot.

Gearhead mk2:
Dear people in positions of power:
Either learn about computers, games and technology, or leave them alone.
Signed,
The Internet

Or you know, she could learn not to post pictures on the internet.

My bad. I misread the article. Shall I withdraw my post?

Who needs privacy when you have nothing to hide?

Idiot.

lacktheknack:
The main thing I got from this is that she's STILL FACEBOOK FRIENDS WITH THE PEOPLE SHE'S SUING.

WHY?!

(I conclude this because the photos are set to "private", but the defendants claim to know their contents.)

people are stupid.

I mean, just look at any story involving people and the internet, for added lolz, focus on parents and computers.

She is wrong, the court is right. Such photos are relevant to a court case, and access to them does not constitute a violation of privacy.

lacktheknack:
The main thing I got from this is that she's STILL FACEBOOK FRIENDS WITH THE PEOPLE SHE'S SUING.

WHY?!

(I conclude this because the photos are set to "private", but the defendants claim to know their contents.)

I can't imagine that someone with 890 facebook friends is all that overly critical about who she is friends with.

Anyway, that evidence does sound quite critical to the case, saying you're injured to the point where you may not be employed and then taking part in sports tournaments does seem a bit deceitful. If her having to show some photos to the courts that she, herself, shows to 890 people means that someone isn't wrongfully sued, I'm all for it.

Do they have a valid warrant to look at these photos? Because as far as I know, that's all they'd need. If they can search a person's home without their permission under the right circumstances, then their Facebook account shouldn't be any different. Especially if they already have testimony from people who can already see the photos as to what they contain.

If we were talking about regular, paper photos, would there even be a question whether the court could have them?

lacktheknack:
The main thing I got from this is that she's STILL FACEBOOK FRIENDS WITH THE PEOPLE SHE'S SUING.

WHY?!

(I conclude this because the photos are set to "private", but the defendants claim to know their contents.)

Nah, if that were the case, they wouldn't need the judge to get them. They'd just print 'em out and bring 'em in.

Nimcha:
Or you know, she could learn not to post pictures on the internet.

Honestly, I'm sure they could mine almost all of the same information from her friends' photos. A university "Law Games" tournament doesn't sound like a small event.

Best to just assume that everything you've ever done in front of a digital camera is public on the Internet and will stay that way forever.

Wow, the British columbian flag is a real clusterfuck.

OT:As much as I hate breaches in privacy, They are photos, unless they are incredibly embarrasing, they aren't going to hurt her, unless of course she is lying and they are of her, I dunno, base jumping or something.

The most interesting thing to come out of this article was finding out what the British Columbia flag looks like.............the colonies sure do have some weird ideas.

This... is actually an interesting case. If she had the photos in a photo album at her home, the defendants could't force her to bring it to court, could they? But in this case, the photos are probably in a Finnish server which is privately owned by Facebook who don't care what happens to this one person. This is interesting when compared to the shift to cloud computing. A US judge determined that you can't be forced to provide your computer's password to the police, but if you're keeping your murder diaries in Google Docs can't Google be forced to give it up?

Gearhead mk2:
Dear people in positions of power:
Either learn about computers, games and technology, or leave them alone.
Signed,
The Internet

You seem to be implying that if the judge knew more about Facebook she would have come to a different conclusion, and I can't understand how you ended up there. Care to explain?

Normally I'd be all over protecting Internet security rights and shtuff but..

omg... dafaq??!?

I don't see what the big deal is. They only need to see the photos, right? She doesn't need to expose her whole Facebook account to the court. And presumably she's got the photos on a disk or Hard Drive somewhere, so why doesn't she just put them on a flash drive and bring that into the court room? The court should present her with two choices, either present the photos or they rule in favor of the defendants and close the case; her decision.

At first I thought aw crap the government is just screwing over the young population like they have before.

Now I just think that she is an idiot equal to the people showing of joints they are rolling.

wooty:
The most interesting thing to come out of this article was finding out what the British Columbia flag looks like.............the colonies sure do have some weird ideas.

We're British and the land where the sun set on the empire until it reached Hawaii more so when Hawaii stopped being British. I've never liked it but until the baby boomers die or they lose interest in the royals there will never be a push to drop the British heritage.

CardinalPiggles:
Who needs privacy when you have nothing to hide?

Idiot.

Sure, let me get access to your house and bank account to make sure you're not doing anything illegal.

The Random One:

Gearhead mk2:
Dear people in positions of power:
Either learn about computers, games and technology, or leave them alone.
Signed,
The Internet

You seem to be implying that if the judge knew more about Facebook she would have come to a different conclusion, and I can't understand how you ended up there. Care to explain?

Well, I dont know about it from a legal point of view, but as far as I'm concerend those pictures are property of the owner that just happen to be digital. So it could have been kept out of the court if she said so. They were marked as private, wich I would say is clear enough indication that she didn't want everyone to see them. Some people think that if it's on the internet, it's public domain, but that's not true.

These just represent my opinions: The internet is mass media and by such anything that is posted on the internet becomes public. That maybe to much, so I took a much narrower view: Anything you share on the internet with more than one person is public. Email, google docs, facebook messages for the most part private. Facebook status posts, pictures etc public.

Eh, why can't they just get a warrant? Can't the court get access to your e-mails and all that, even take your hard-drive as evidence?

It wouldn't be a big deal if they took a photo-album, this is basically the digital equivalent.

She is suing them. She has to prove that she is being affected badly. The burden of proof is on her to show that she IS having issues due to the accident, it is not on the defence to prove that she isn't. Therefore she has to disclose the photo's or drop the suit, since they hold vital evidence as to whether she truly is being impaired.

Lucem712:
Eh, why can't they just get a warrant? Can't the court get access to your e-mails and all that, even take your hard-drive as evidence?

It wouldn't be a big deal if they took a photo-album, this is basically the digital equivalent.

This was in Canada so applying US law rules doesn't work. Canada may have something similar, that I do not know but going by the fact that this is (apparently) news I would say such is not the case.

I don't think "right to privacy" was conceived to preclude a warrant (or equivalent judicial order).

Is it just me or do the reasons to NOT USE facebook seem to increase on a daily basis? I mean I have a facebook, but I have not accessed the thing since 2008, with the exception of a month ago when I got a message from facebook asking if it was me who logged in from China, so I went in and changed the password to something much much stronger, and then proceeded to not use it again.

There is a question: Does Canada have an equivalent to our US Constitution's 4th Amendment? IF so what is the wording?

Wait wait waitwaitwait...since when is a court order to disclose 'private' (obviously when you have nearly 1000 facebook friends that can see them they are anything but private but still) photos anything new?

1st common sense Facebook rule: even if there is only a single person whom you would not want to see a picture or post, don't upload it.

2nd common sense Facebook rule: only add your friends, that is people whom you are okay sharing details of your life

3rd common sense Facebook rule: why the fuck would you ADD someone you are suing? No shit they will try to find evidence on your page.

Akisa:

CardinalPiggles:
Who needs privacy when you have nothing to hide?

Idiot.

Sure, let me get access to your house and bank account to make sure you're not doing anything illegal.

if it's relevant to the case, then yeah, that's perfectly fine.

ever heard of tax dodgers?

same thing.

OT: as long as it's relevant to the case, as this CLEARLY is, then i don't see a problem with it, she just knows that she is caught and is doing what she can to try and block them from getting that substantial evidence.

Let's extend this to a more tangible example.

If I create photos of myself, and only hand them to people I desire, it is an invasion of my privacy if those photos are stolen by someone else and published to people I do not desire.

However, if those photos depict something relevant to a court case, than those photos CAN be subpoenad as evidence in a civil or criminal trial (provided proper jurisprudence etc.) It's not a violation of privacy, it's EVIDENCE IN A TRIAL.

Sorry, sir, I set those human remains to 'Private' so the courts can't look at them.

Same thing with Facebook--you're publishing photos, and you are controlling distribution, however if those photos depict something relevant to a court case... evidence in a trial, then you're damn rights the courts can subpoena that. They can subpoena the camera you took them with even if you never actually publish the pictures!

To think otherwise is rediculous. This is a legal proceeding, those are evidence, it is allowed within that context provided proper jurisprudence is followed.

[quote="Jodah" post="7.373553.14446261"This was in Canada so applying US law rules doesn't work. Canada may have something similar, that I do not know but going by the fact that this is (apparently) news I would say such is not the case.[/quote]

We do, but in this case it's a court subpoenaing the evidence (it's not a search of premises as the evidence is published and they're not searching private property for it but seeking the cooperation of agencies to attain it. A warrant allows you to search for evidence, a subpoena requires someone to go get it for you.)

MorganL4:

There is a question: Does Canada have an equivalent to our US Constitution's 4th Amendment? IF so what is the wording?

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that "Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure."

However, this court order is not considered unreasonable search or seizure, as the photos are relevant to the case.

Steve the Pocket:
Do they have a valid warrant to look at these photos? Because as far as I know, that's all they'd need. If they can search a person's home without their permission under the right circumstances, then their Facebook account shouldn't be any different. Especially if they already have testimony from people who can already see the photos as to what they contain.

The Canadian Legal System is a bit different then the US, namely that things obtained illegaly by Cops are not allways thrown out of court and the Judge may accept them.

I hate social networking so I am going to try to stay objective.

As the plaintiff, the burden of proof is on you, so if you refuse to disclose the photos, I think the court should be able to throw the case out. They don't have to violate her "privacy" but they shouldn't have to work a case when evidence is being withheld by the plaintiff.

Judge Judy should have tried this case, she would have resolved this in 10 minutes and also made fun of an idiot on television instead of an internet post.

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