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

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the just-wants-to-go-like-his-own-posts dept.

Facebook 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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Do as a I say... (0, Offtopic)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 2 years ago | (#42058545)

...not as I do!

Re:Do as a I say... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058677)

Not at all.

If you are suing, then cell phones, Facebook and email are all part of the evidence in the case. Without reading the sepcifics I cannot tell you why the judge wanted it.

The teachers requiring a FB p/w were on a fishing expedition that went beyond the purview of their positions.

Re:Do as a I say... (5, Informative)

AvitarX (172628) | about 2 years ago | (#42059211)

Usually in discovery you turn over data, often times even processed data (scans, copies, PDFs rather than original files).

Redactions are very common. Handing over 100% of communication, relevant or not, completely ubredacted is NOT how things are supposed to work.

note, always make sure to send a message to your lawyer with every account. They should then be able to argue that it contains priveledged info and needs to be turned over by the lawyer in a different format (not saying it will work, but It's worth a try).

Back when records were physical, lawyers were given temporary, unrestricted, but observed access to documents, and able to ask for broad sections to be copied and sent based on what they saw.

I think the facebook equivalent is to give access to the account supervised for x number of hours, and then allow requests to be made for all messages in this date range, or these people, etc.

Re:Do as a I say... (1)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#42059301)

True, but this seems unusually invasive, esp since she is the plaintiff.

I can maybe see the argument for 'discovery', but despite the myth that sexual harassment suits are slam dunks, they usually go pretty badly with judges traditionally being hostile to them... so there is a real possibility here that the judge (or the opposing council) is trying to punish the plantif through invading her personal life.. it makes a nice example to others...

Re:Do as a I say... (4, Informative)

jhoegl (638955) | about 2 years ago | (#42059343)

I RTFA, it is a legit request.
The plaintiffs were using it to communicate about the suit. It is their own ignorance that caused it.

Re:Do as a I say... (2)

Applekid (993327) | about 2 years ago | (#42059519)

I fail to see how a subpoena to Facebook and her mail provider couldn't accomplish the same thing without having to give out passwords.

Re:Do as a I say... (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#42059685)

Oh no. The Plaintiff is making claims. The defendant needs to be able to defend themselves against accusations. If there were rights to lean in favor of one party over the other, I would hope it would favor the defense.

It is obvious in cases such as sexual harassment, the first defense is "s/he no reasonable cause to be offended over language or to feel harassed given the type of language she uses on a frequent basis." I recall one particular female who used to work where I work now... she was pretty rowdy with her language and behavior. But from time to time when it was convenient, she would begin to make noises about harassment. In her case, she had no reasonable cause to be offended given her behavior. I was glad to see her go. She really upset a lot of people.

You are making the classic assumption that because she is a 'she' that she is a victim and is completely honest about her claims.... you know, like a particular single mother with a single child collecting child support from three men in three states.

Re:Do as a I say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059511)

They should not need the passwords to get the evidence. The service providers should be able to hand the data over in response to an appropriate court order without giving *anyone* the ability to impersonate one of their users.

Re:Do as a I say... (4, Informative)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#42059311)

If you are suing, then cell phones, Facebook and email are all part of the evidence in the case. Without reading the sepcifics I cannot tell you why the judge wanted it.

Also, TFA clearly states that the accounts are turned over to the forensics expert not to the defendant. Forensics expert hopefully being an impartial observer here - it's not like the defendant has their account to himself.

Re:Do as a I say... (-1, Troll)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#42059167)

And I say the web site the fucking article is on is the VERY WORST I've seen in years. There were better sites on Geocities. It's about as clumsy, juvenile, and unuseable as any I've seen, obviously done by a rank amateur who has never coded anything in his life. Here [newshour24.com] is a different one, and it looks like that submitted article was plagairized from the one I linked.

I liked the internet a whole lot better when it was just us nerds. The AC who submitted the story is most probably the owner of the gawdoffal site TFS linked. Oh, the one I linked sucks, too, but not nearly as bad as the one from TFS. So far, thenextweb.com gets my vote as the year's worst site.

Excuse me while I get the blood out of my eyes, damn but it BURNS!

Re:Do as a I say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059411)

Oh, no, no, please. Don't hold back. Tell us how you really feel, mcgrew.

Re:Do as a I say... (1)

hogger (566646) | about 2 years ago | (#42059651)

Would it be proper for the judge to demand passwords to the FB accounts of the pertinent employees of the Honeybaked Ham Co.? Wouldn't access to their accounts be equally valuable for deciding the case? Why is the female plaintiff the only one subject to turning over access to all FB communications?

Facebook has a say in the contract as well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058563)

Ask the Judge to attach Facebook to the case.

Facebook should be able to oppose this in court.

Lets split it (4, Insightful)

synapse7 (1075571) | about 2 years ago | (#42058581)

I propose /. split into two sites, one featuring litigation and the other focuses on news for nerds.

Re:Lets split it (2)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 2 years ago | (#42058679)

I propose /. split into two sites, one featuring litigation and the other focuses on news for nerds.

So interesting court cases are never news? I don't really have a problem with them turning up here.

The main issue I have with litigation stories are the inane comments threads. You have things that are blatantly wrong written by people who seem to have little understanding of the law (confusing civil and criminal matters, not understanding self-incrimination etc) and lawyers posting saying "I can't comment as it might be construed as legal advice, even though I'm posting as AC and I said this wasn't legal advice."

Re:Lets split it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058773)

Unfortunately, I can't comment on this tactic, as it might be construed as legal advice. Better luck next time.

Re:Lets split it (5, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#42059465)

I propose /. split into two sites, one featuring litigation and the other focuses on news for nerds.

So interesting court cases are never news?

It's like wrestling on the sci-fi channel. Yes, technically it is fantasy, but it just feels wrong.

Re:Lets split it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059543)

It's like wrestling on the sci-fi channel. Yes, technically it is fantasy, but it just feels wrong.

Well, it certainly isn't science fiction. I have no clue in what sense "fantasy" would be relevant either.

Re:Lets split it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058971)

I propose /. split into two sites, one featuring litigation and the other focuses on news for nerds.

I propose we split society up into two groups, one who is rich and controlling, and the other who is enslaved and/or incarcerated.

Oh, wait. Nevermind, that's already happening, and they probably hold the patent on it. I wouldn't want to get sued...

Re:Lets split it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059275)

A lot of what we have rights about every day comes from litigation stories.

For example, what would have happened if SCOTUS found for the CDA in the mid-1990s? The word "fuck" would net someone a 10 year prison sentence.

Or what would the world be like if People Eating Tasty Animals still owned peta.com and peta.org?

Then there are the DMCA lawsuits. What would happen if the garage door company was able to muzzle people from making compatible remotes? What would happen if people were rounded up en masse and thrown in jail, Operation Sun Devil style, for mentioning the marker trick to make shiny silver disks [1] play in computers?

Lawsuits affect every facet of our lives, regardless if we like it or not.

[1]: They violate the CD-ROM spec, so they can't be called CDs.

Re:Lets split it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059417)

Legal stuff is click bait. That's the only reason they post the same shit several times a day.

Duh, it's evidence (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058621)

A judge is perfectly permitted to require the defense access to potentially usable evidence given probable cause that the evidence is there. School officials, on the other hand, are not judges or part of the legal system.

Complete non-story by some muckraker. Naturally, /. posts it.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#42058711)

But a facebook password gives access to a whole lot of stuff that has nothing to do with the case. This would be like the Judge demanding unlimited access to your house (without your oversight) so that they could have a look at what the TV in your living room looks like. There are better, more restrictive ways that the evidence could be gathered, ways that don't expose every intimate detail of a person's private life to the courts.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (3, Interesting)

Old97 (1341297) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (5, Insightful)

kubernet3s (1954672) | about 2 years ago | (#42059015)

These are civil suits, not criminal cases. 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. This ruling seems to do nothing but pave the way for "fishing expeditions," as another commenter put it, on behalf of judges, who can then go "Oh, a smiley face at the end of a WORK RELATED email, looks like you were leading him on pretty hard."

If, on the other hand, the defense wishes to use the email records as a defense, and the plaintiff disputes the veracity of these records, I can see the judge ordering access to the records to check on their veracity. If the plaintiff fails to provide these, then toss the case out: I have no problem with that. However, requiring a priori access to a person's correspondence at the outset of a case for no reason than to provide a judge with evidence outside the context of the court seems downright unconscionable.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (4, Interesting)

Old97 (1341297) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (0)

kubernet3s (1954672) | about 2 years ago | (#42059287)

Pretty much everything the defense "alleges" should have no bearing on the case (ex. "Sexually amorous communications with case members," a shirt with the word "CUNT" on it). Unless the Facebook contains the phrase "I am completely comfortable with the treatment I receive from my supervisor and in no way consider it a form of harassment" none of it should be admissible, and the judge should not even be investigating.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (4, Insightful)

Old97 (1341297) | about 2 years ago | (#42059381)

Excuse me? It is the judge who rule what is or is not admissible, not the plaintiff or the defense. You mentioned an exception "Unless the Facebook contains the phrase ..." - an admission that it is possible that relevant evidence is there to be found. So how are we to know whether her Facebook page does nor does not contain that phrase? How are we to know whether or not she has posted comments about her love for this supervisor or bragged about her sex life with him or whatever? Who should determine whether or not there is something admissible and relevant if not the judge? Certainly not the plaintiff. False allegations are made all the time. The defense has the right to demand all relevant evidence that may help it. Its the duty of the judge to be fair to both.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059403)

How about if it contains information that she was intending to set the supervisor up? Or that she was hitting on the supervisor and the supervisor shot her down? I could go on but perhaps you will apply some imagination of your own.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#42058783)

As does any kind of warrant. How is this any different than a search of a house, which will contain lots of materials that have nothing to do with the case?

Re:Duh, it's evidence (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058803)

>But a facebook password gives access to a whole lot of stuff that has nothing to do with the case.

What's your point? A search warrant for a house also "gives access to a whole lot of stuff that has nothing to do with the case". Guess who's in charge of regulating what's allowed as evidence in both situations?

Search warrant for a civil case? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059207)

I don't think they do those, but IANAL. Maybe I'm wrong but my reading of (e.g.) Wikipedia's article on the 4th amendment to the US constitution, is that judges won't issue warrants to search someone's house unless there is probable cause of evidence of CRIME. This civil case under discussion doesn't involve criminal charges as far as I know. The evidentiary standards and the rules of procedure for civil and criminal cases are completely different from each other. In a civil case you get to issue subpoenas saying "give me all your documents related to such and so", with sanctions if it's shown that you held something back, but they don't get to search your house.

TLDR: search warrant = criminal case. Civil case gets subpoena, not search warrant. Search nazi says: "no search for you!

Re:Search warrant for a civil case? (3, Interesting)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (3, Insightful)

SighKoPath (956085) | about 2 years ago | (#42058865)

You seem to think that anything on Facebook is private. How quaint.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059231)

If you are actually using Facebook anymore...how quaint. Privacy and Facebook are diametrically oppsed.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (3, Insightful)

Erioll (229536) | about 2 years ago | (#42058871)

I echo somebody else's comment above that comparing this to a school board is disingenuous. A court order is far different than a school board going fishing.

For this case, a court order for information from a person's web account should have a way to subpoena the information necessary without requiring disclosure of passwords. That's reasonable, just like how with a court order a suspect must provide the keys and/or open up a safe on their property if such is specified in a search warrant. It's similar. The problem comes that with some models of computer security, that information is not available without a privacy violation (giving up a password). It's quite a conundrum.

That being said, in this case (and many others) I'm shocked that Facebook (& friends) don't have some type of "legal request mechanism" that would work as a "backdoor" for this type of thing. They can reset passwords and such, so it's hard to believe they don't have a mechanism to handle requests from legal systems for a history of posts, images, etc. The law should always require a warrant to access it if it's not publicly posted, but other than that, I'm surprised it isn't already there.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (4, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | about 2 years ago | (#42059205)

I'm shocked that Facebook (& friends) don't have some type of "legal request mechanism" that would work as a "backdoor" for this type of thing. They can reset passwords and such, so it's hard to believe they don't have a mechanism to handle requests from legal systems for a history of posts, images, etc.

You shouldn't be shocked; they do, of course, have such a mechanism. You might be shocked that in this case it wasn't used.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (2)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#42059369)

They have such a mechanism, but it requires some kind of LEO action or court order. In this case it sounds like defense discovery for a civil case, which Facebook is probably under no obligation to honor.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#42058979)

So does searching your home.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#42059613)

Facebook is used for so much more now: access to websites above and beyond facebook. A warrant may allow them to search your home, but it doesn't give them access to Aunt Petunia's home. Giving them a facebook password gives them access to other sites.

Re:Duh, it's evidence (2)

Aglassis (10161) | about 2 years ago | (#42058937)

It should only be acceptable if it is directly relevant to the case. Judges shouldn't allow the defense to go on a fishing expedition. Judges generally don't handle this well. In this case the judge used an intermediary to check the accounts and then hand over the applicable information to the defense. I'm sure the judge felt that this was an acceptable way to protect privacy. But that still classifies as a fishing expedition since the courts decide that all 'relevant' information is turned over and not just the information that the defense knew about. Thus it becomes like a search of a house for illegal guns, but since nothing was found but dope, and that is now 'relevant', it can be used against you. It pits privacy rights (which are basically nonexistent) against the individual's right to discovery ("reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence") or the government's right so search based on a warrant ("probable cause").

Re:Duh, it's evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059271)

And naturally some anonymous coward posts a comment

Re:Duh, it's evidence (0)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#42059341)

Looking at the actual order, sounds like the judge is sanctioning a trolling for 'personally' stuff... so a basic 'look, we can find all this embarrassing stuff to show the jury that she isn't a moral upright person and deserved the harassment!'

Re:Duh, it's evidence (2)

big_e_1977 (2012512) | about 2 years ago | (#42059409)

If the judge really needed the evidence, then they can go subpoena Facebook directly and request an archive of the communications to/from the parties involved. No risk of information outside of the scope of the subpoena being leaked.

was this ever resolved? (3, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#42058633)

We'e seen a few stories recently like this, where a judge has demanded someone to turn over information that they've already agreed not to in a TOS.

Was this ever resolved, whether a judge can order you to violate a TOS? Either it's legally binding or it's not. Not variable on who's asking or whether or not it's convenient. They need to make up their minds.

Re:was this ever resolved? (4, Informative)

DM9290 (797337) | about 2 years ago | (#42058681)

We'e seen a few stories recently like this, where a judge has demanded someone to turn over information that they've already agreed not to in a TOS.

Was this ever resolved, whether a judge can order you to violate a TOS? Either it's legally binding or it's not. Not variable on who's asking or whether or not it's convenient. They need to make up their minds.

Yes a judge can order you to violate a TOS. A judge's order obligates you and you can't be legally bound by contract to violate a judges order.

Re:was this ever resolved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059527)

We'e seen a few stories recently like this, where a judge has demanded someone to turn over information that they've already agreed not to in a TOS.

Was this ever resolved, whether a judge can order you to violate a TOS? Either it's legally binding or it's not. Not variable on who's asking or whether or not it's convenient. They need to make up their minds.

Yes a judge can order you to violate a TOS. A judge's order obligates you and you can't be legally bound by contract to violate a judges order.

[Citation needed]

Re:was this ever resolved? (2)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#42059623)

Yes a judge can order you to violate a TOS. A judge's order obligates you and you can't be legally bound by contract to violate a judges order.

But by that reasoning, a judge could be a blank check for anyone to violate any contract.

If that power exists, either it's got to have some significant limitations to it, or it should.

It's not a judge's job to help people negate legally-binding documents.

That's not how it works (3, Informative)

sirwired (27582) | about 2 years ago | (#42059683)

You cannot avoid a lawfully issued subpoena (or warrant) by pointing at a contract saying you are obligated not to turn over the requested discovery/evidence. There are certain very limited communications not subject to subpoenas/warrants, and online posts with your friends aren't on that list. (Personal communications with doctors, lawyers, spouses, mental health professionals, and religious ministers are.)

I can think of all sorts of malfeasance that could be hidden if a TOS magically inhibited the discovery process.

The idea of a TOS is legally valid (although that does not stop it from containing invalid terms) but it does not override a court order.

What do you have to hide? (-1, Flamebait)

Spiked_Three (626260) | about 2 years ago | (#42058663)

I know, privacy as as a right, blah blah bla. Forget it. There is no longer a right to privacy, terrorism became sophisticated enough that simply is NOT going to happen, period.

And face it, the opposition probably already HAS the information, they are just trying to avoid the backlash that comes with admitting that.

But the real questions boils down what is being hidden; If there is wrong doing, it needs to be exposed. Privacy should no longer be an excuse when trying to deprive or take from someone else. You have nothing to hide? prove it. You want to keep your conversations private? Then I will assume your motivations are NOT honest.

I am wondering to myself how this is different from wikileaks? I mean its a big deal we make secret government communications public right (in the interest of truth)? What's the difference?

Re:What do you have to hide? (1)

skade88 (1750548) | about 2 years ago | (#42058761)

Some conversations should be private because of the feelings and emotions that can arise from having them made public. The idea that every aspect of all our lives should be open to the entire world seems silly. Sadly anything you put on the internet can and most likely will be made public either through people leaking it, the laws demanding it or lacked IT security letting it slip through the cracks. It is important to teach our kids that what they say online will last forever and will follow them for the rest of their lives.

Re:What do you have to hide? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059327)

Feelings ARE emotions.

Re:What do you have to hide? (5, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#42058829)

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.

Re:What do you have to hide? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059251)

Fuck you for being retarded, Just fuck you.

Re:What do you have to hide? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059445)

People like you are a far bigger threat to our freedom than any terrorist.

People like GP should be carefully studied in a controlled environment. I think they believe what they say:

There is no longer a right to privacy, terrorism became sophisticated enough

Same as the "post-9-11 world" and "world has changed" statements, which are based on absolutely nothing. Ironically, terrorism is the opposite of sophisticated. Their methods have not changed and most of these so called terrorists are just maladjusted people who dream of attention (and google some terrorismy things in their basement).

Re:What do you have to hide? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058891)

Wow, you are so wrong I don't even know where to begin :(

Do a search on why Europe has privacy laws and start from there, you got close to a 100 years of history to learn from.

Re:What do you have to hide? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058953)

You want to keep your conversations private? Then I will assume your motivations are NOT honest.

No, you will PRETEND my motivations are not honest. Which will make you a liar.

Re:What do you have to hide? (4, Insightful)

Safety Cap (253500) | about 2 years ago | (#42059127)

Go ahead and post your social security number.

And your mother's maden name

And your date of birth

You have nothing to hide? Prove it.

Re:What do you have to hide? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059135)

Says the person who's world view has been shaped by 60 years of relative peace and stable governments for a few privileged countries in the west. Your ignorance of history is nearly as appalling as your lack of foresight - governments can change, and literally overnight. Handing your information over to a benevolent government today may means it lands in the hands of a tyranny today.

Seriously, you're an idiot. I cling to the hope that you represent a very small minority.

Re:What do you have to hide? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059277)

Really terrorism isn't a big deal. I'll take my freedoms back and assume the small small small small risk that terrorists are going to hurt me or someone I care about. There was already a higher probability of being hurt by my own government despite being innocent of a crime than there ever was of being hurt by terrorists. Now thanks to billions of dollars and thousands of lives wasted we get to enjoy a greater risk of both harm by terrorists and a greater risk of harm by our own government.

I've heard that we'd be wusses for just letting them get away with it but seeing as how we had been having good luck whooping the crap out of them for decades with special warfare types, I'd have thought we would have looked pretty tough if we didn't cry like babies about 9-11 and just carried on business as usual. Really how are terrorists now such a big threat that we need more law enforcement and intelligence resources to deal with them now than we did contending with the USSR and it's sponsored terrorists and the smattering of various groups and people who haven't liked us at any given time?

Re:What do you have to hide? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059313)

You really feel that you have no right to privacy? Prove it. Install web cams in all your bathrooms and bedrooms. Post the link here along with all of your bank account infomation, credit cards, etc.

If that's the kind of world you want to live in, check out "We" by Zamyatin.

If she's 12... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058673)

whats the worst they could do. Move over whats the worst she could have done.

I used to think that schools were to keep children busy so parents could go to work, now I think it keeps a special kind of bastard dictator type where they can do little harm, oh and keep children busy so the parents can go to work.

Didn't even read the summary, did you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059203)

The 12-year-old was a different case entirely.

Re:If she's 12... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059413)

She's been sucking every male teacher's dick every day during lunch and after school

Aquisition of evidence (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Aquisition of evidence (5, Interesting)

sphantom (795286) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Aquisition of evidence (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059083)

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.

A warrant? On what grounds? She didn't commit a crime. This is part of discovery for her lawsuit. If she doesn't want to provide the evidence she can drop her case. There's no reason to force anyone to do anything. Certainly no reason to drag a third party into it. It's her case. Her choice. Give up the evidence or drop the case.

Re:Aquisition of evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059155)

On reread, at least some of this is also data requested by the defense. Still, evidence acquisition, and it's up to the involved parties whether they want to get to a judgement quickly or bog the thing down with efforts to block evidence (which always make a judge suspicious, even if they hide their suspicions well).

Re:Aquisition of evidence (1)

whoda (569082) | about 2 years ago | (#42059225)

This is the defense trying to get evidence that contradicts the plaintiffs allegations.
Such as wearing a shirt with CUNT printed on it, then complaining for being called one after you labelled yourself.

And posting about your own sexual aggressiveness isn't the best idea either.

Re:Aquisition of evidence (3, Insightful)

cdrudge (68377) | about 2 years ago | (#42059463)

Such as wearing a shirt with CUNT printed on it, then complaining for being called one after you labelled yourself.

My wife calls me sexy. I don't want my boss calling me sexy. I might call my wife a fucking bitch while playing a game if she makes a move that blocks. Her boss calling her a fucking bitch would be inappropriate in a professional office environment.

The plaintiff may have been at a bachelorette party where friends put the shirt on her or she was otherwise having a good time and went along with it. That doesn't mean it was appropriate, right, or that she appreciated her boss calling her that or saying that to her.

Context is very key and context can not be fully determined just from a picture. And even if it could, it still doesn't mean that the boss didn't sexually harass her or other plaintiffs.

wtf? (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 2 years ago | (#42058691)

Even if the sexual harassment suit doesn't involve these forms of communication? Or could be verified by other means?

That's the equivalent of saying that they need to allow the defense attorneys to search their home and make copies of all their personal documents.

OTOH, seems as though a woman with a solid case for sexual harassment that does involve electronic communications would want to submit these all their electronic records to help the case (although not the passwords).

Re:wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058807)

Except it might. THE REST OF THIS POST IS PURELY HYPOTHETICAL AND IS NOT IN ANY WAY INTENDED TO BE A REPRESENTATION OF THE CASE AT HAND.

Woman to boss, through text messages: "Let's get together after work for an affair."
Boss deletes text message, emails her through work email the next day, "I want to sleep with you but my wife can't find out if we sleep together. So it'd be better if we get together during the next sales trip to Aruba."
Woman to HR: "OMG HARRASSMENT!"

That she started it with a text is particularly salient to the case at hand. There are a million ways this could go where having access to her data could entirely destroy her case.

Sorry, judges (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058701)

I'm sorry, Your Honor, but what you are ordering is a violation of the United States Constitution. Anyone that would move to compel me to do this is a terrorist, as subjugation of the United States Constitution is an attack at the very core of the United States itself, clearly intended to cause fear in the population.

Re:Sorry, judges (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#42059025)

What part of the constitution does this violate? And do you know what a warrant is or how it is issue?

Re:Sorry, judges (1)

mellon (7048) | about 2 years ago | (#42059107)

Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. This is pretty clearly unreasonable. Normally when you have a situation like this, you go to a computer forensics company and get them to sift through the dataset for data that is relevant. They get a copy of the data, not access to the original data. This way, the worst that can happen is that they violate your privacy. The search is done according to instructions given by the judge, and only matches are provided to the opposing council.

Letting opposing council, or even a forensics company, have the password to your personal accounts is very, very different. If they are corrupt, they can modify the evidence. Additionally, if sexual harassment was in fact occurring, the harasser may well use the access to perpetrate further harassment once the case is decided.

So no, sorry, the judge is way, way wrong here. The subpoena should have gone to Facebook, not to the plaintiff.

Re:Sorry, judges (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059549)

Good luck finding a lawyer who would deal with that case after being tossed in the cooler for a couple months for contempt of court charges...

Sorta makes sense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058721)

When you think about it, instead of having the obligatory knee-jerk reaction, this makes sense on the judge's part.

Basically, was the woman leading the boss on? If there's facebook messages and texts of her leading the guy on, or even starting the whole thing, then the tables kinda turn. Course, in that case BOTH of them should be fired for this, since it's a horrendous conflict of interest.

But without evidence, a girl can just say "Yo, he sexually harassed me", and of course being a guy, he will have absolutely zero way to claim innocence, even if she's lying outright about everything.

And I think it's a matter of common sense that in either of the above things, the guy will have to surrender the exact same information to the judge. If neither submit evidence, and there's no witnesses, then it's a he-said, she-said situation, and can be thrown handily out of court.

I also wish the article itself wasn't blocked at my work, so that I could actually verify if any of the above even applies.

RTFA (4, Informative)

b5bartender (2175066) | about 2 years ago | (#42058723)

The plaintiff was allegedly using facebook to make statements about the case and other events relevant to the case.

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059405)

I wanted to post a comment revealing my wisdom, but after reading a little of the article, one thing finally pounded itself into my mind. US courts, US judges. US of A!!!

Need to search archives, maybe there was something posted years ago about USA scientists creating a black hole sucking intelligence and common sense out of everyone in that country ...

a way for Facebook to allow this "properly" (2)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 2 years ago | (#42058731)

Facebook should have a secondary READ ONLY password that can be voided after say 7 days

or Facebook should simply give the court a dump of the required info

btw whats with them needing the actual hardware since the phones themselves should not have the needed data anymore
(i could see asking for the NUMBERS but not the hardware)

Rights (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 2 years ago | (#42058741)

Good call! People put everything on facebook, I wouldn't be surprised for the clinch pin to be on the facebook wall or in a facebook message.

Re:Rights (1)

skade88 (1750548) | about 2 years ago | (#42058793)

"Filming our crime spree was the best idea we ever had!" - Jimbo, from the Simpsons.

Re:Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059281)

Linchpin, not clinch pin.

Not quite the same thing being compared here (5, Insightful)

DrEnter (600510) | about 2 years ago | (#42058767)

There is a BIG difference between a judge ordering someone to disclose their facebook password to collect evidence and a school teacher or principal doing it. Also, the person in question here is the plaintiff. The defense generally does have a lot of latitude when it comes to evidence collection. My only complaint here is that the plaintiff's sexual behavior outside of work should not be relevant or admissible, but it looks like from some of the statements that the defense is going to push to get that stuff admitted. The judge should put pretty strict criteria on what evidence may be collected and presented to the jury. We aren't really getting those details here, though.

Re:Not quite the same thing being compared here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058895)

My only complaint here is that the plaintiff's sexual behavior outside of work should not be relevant or admissible

Why? If a plaintiff is going to claim to be actionably offended by certain kinds of speech and behavior, shouldn't the defendant be able to bring evidence that the plaintiff engages in said speech and behavior?

Re:Not quite the same thing being compared here (2, Interesting)

Tony (765) | about 2 years ago | (#42059473)

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:Not quite the same thing being compared here (2)

Jiro (131519) | about 2 years ago | (#42059643)

Follow the links, which go to a PDF of the case. The judge refers to court cases suggesting otherwise. For instance, "Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 68 (1986) (in sexual harassment case, totality
of circumstances including plaintiffâ(TM)s own conduct is potentially relevant)."

Re:Not quite the same thing being compared here (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about 2 years ago | (#42059007)

Exactly. The plantiff can drop out of the lawsuit. A 12-year-old girl doesn't have the option of not going to school anymore.

If the plantiff's don't want a court to poke around on their Facebook page, then drop the suit or settle out of court.

I didn't RTFA but (0)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 years ago | (#42058785)

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

Anyway I know FB has a policy of "you are not allowed to give your password to others"
So they should have a hotline or email or web page for reporting "I am being forced to give my password to (employer | school | court | government agency | religious authority)" before handing it over, so FB can disable access to the account.

not necessarily true (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 2 years ago | (#42058977)

I imagine they're looking for something like a private FB/email message to a friend planning what false story they're going to tell.

Re:I didn't RTFA but (3, Interesting)

niado (1650369) | about 2 years ago | (#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 . . .

Re:I didn't RTFA but (1)

Beerdood (1451859) | about 2 years ago | (#42059117)

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

I wouldn't agree with that statement. Suppose there's a wall post by the defendant, or a note or a message to a friend that says something on the lines of "Boy my employer is a hottie, I'd just like to take him for a ride if you know what I mean!" - how would that having nothing to do with the case? A statement like that would pretty much throw this case out - if it's reasonable (or provable) that she was the one that made these statements (meaning someone else didn't make the statements via a hacked account) then I don't see why facebook statements can't be used or relevant.

One of the tidbits of information the plaintiff claims is relevant is this :

; 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);

Now we're getting into a bit of a grey area here, but such a photograph would be relevant. Now it's obviously not acceptable to call your employee a cunt to their face, I would expect harassment charges to stand here. But if the defendant hears the employer using that term to describe someone else, or happens to overhear that term being used and the defendant isn't the person being referred to - then such a picture of the t-shirt would be quite relevant. If the defendant claims that "such use offended her" by simply overhearing the word, but if a photograph shows her in a shirt with CUNT on it - then it's pretty clear she doesn't have a valid claim to simply be offended by hearing the word

You make a good point on being "forced to give the password to others" - but this is the plantiff, not the defendant. If it was the defendant, then I'd be more outraged. But if the defendant says "the plaintiff first sent me sexually suggestive messages on facebook!", it seems perfectly reasonable for the judge to request proof from the plaintiff

Couldn't they just (1)

opus_magnum (1688810) | about 2 years ago | (#42058801)

subpoena Facebook and all the other relevant parties?

Re:Couldn't they just (1)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | about 2 years ago | (#42059475)

Yes they could. Then they have to fight Facebook's lawyers, possible out of state, with no precedence guaranteeing they win. This way they only have to convince the local magistrate judge.

We need a "valet key" passwords. (3, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#42058859)

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.

This is kind of weird, but... (1)

theangrypeon (1306525) | about 2 years ago | (#42059035)

I suppose this is going to be the new normal when it comes to the discovery phases of court cases like this. It's an odd approach, I wonder why he just didn't subpoena the various services themselves for the information. Maybe it would have taken too much time I guess?

That being said, the comparison of the 12-year old being forced by school officials to provide her passwords and the case of this woman is fallacious. In a court of law, in particular with cases involving defamation and harassment, a judge can, and often does, force you to provide things that would otherwise be private if it's deemed relevant to the case (and given the circumstances in this case, it most certainly is).

Terms of Service Violation (1)

grim4593 (947789) | about 2 years ago | (#42059103)

Does the fact that the judge ordered for this disclosure require Facebook not to close the account when the account holder violates their terms of service?
If Facebook does close the account does the account holder have any recourse to get the account reinstated? Does the judge?

This will cause a terrible precedent.. (2)

Jintsui (2759005) | about 2 years ago | (#42059173)

What do you do if you sue someone and DON'T have a social networking page. Will your case get thrown out for not providing what you don't have? We already see this with job interviews. How many people were not accepted for a job because they wouldn't or couldn't provide a Facebook password? I don't use ANY social networking sites with the exception of Linkedin. Do you think they would believe me if I said I don't have one? It should be the decision of the plaintiffs to provide that information as evidence, not the position of the judge to order private information.

Silver lining. (1)

sidragon.net (1238654) | about 2 years ago | (#42059361)

This and similar events may help teach people that nothing they put on services like Facebook or Google is private.

Part of the evidence is admissable (1)

SmaryJerry (2759091) | about 2 years ago | (#42059667)

A password should not be given as that allows the information to be modified, falsified, and comprises security of passwords on other accounts (bank accounts even). The information on facebook should still be provided, by entering the password and monitoring a evidence collector, to allow the accused party to prove their innocence. If the accuser of sexual harassment said to a friend (or on facebook in this case) "I wasn't harrassed I am making it up" that is evidence that can be included in court as proof of innocence to the other party. However, if the accuser says to a friend (or facebook in this case) "I was harrassed" that evidence will not be admissable as proof of guilt to the other party.
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