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Facebook Fights in California Court

October 22, 2015 Hastings and Hastings

Every day, it is becoming more and more common for people to share large amounts of information about themselves online. There are so many places we can share, from sites like Facebook, to apps like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. There is a lot of information about us out there. Maintaining privacy is important. Facebook recently won a court battle which centered upon the sharing of private online information.

A Deadly Need for Information

This battle for privacy began as an actual battle out on the streets of San Francisco. Derrick Hunter and Lee Sullivan were accused of committing a drive-by shooting. Before the trial began, lawyers subpoenaed Facebook, believing that the two may have posted some information about the shooting on their private online profiles. Facebook declined to offer the information, saying that it was private online information and thus protected.

A Shield for Information

Facebook believed that that information was protected by a 29-year-old federal law called the Stored Communications Act. The law is designed to protected private online information from unauthorized disclosure and access. The trial court which had issued the subpoenas decided that the law did not apply and proceeded forward. Facebook then decided to appeal the trial court’s decision

A New Ruling

On Tuesday, September 8th, the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco overturned the decision made by the trial court. The court stated:

“In sum, we find no support for the trial court’s order for pretrial production of information otherwise subject to the SCA’s protections.”

The court went on to emphasize that their ruling focused on the pretrial process only, saying that circumstances may be different during the actual trial . For now, private information will remain private, at least during pretrial proceedings. As always, the best way to keep information private is to keep it off of the internet. If you have private information, the best thing you can do is to keep it secret, keep it safe, and keep it off Facebook.