Stored Communications Act Protects Facebook and MySpace Users’ Private Communications
By Kathryn Freund – Edited by Jad Mills
Crispin v. Christian Audigier, Inc., CV 09-09509-MMM-JEMx (C.D. Cal. May 26, 2010)
The Central District of California reversed and quashed Magistrate Judge McDermott’s order granting a subpoena to obtain private Facebook and MySpace messages and vacated and remanded his order granting a subpoena to obtain Facebook wall postings and MySpace comments.
Judge Morrow held that private messages sent using Facebook and MySpace fall under the protections of the Stored Communications Act (“SCA”), 18 U.S.C. 2701, which limits the government’s ability to compel Internet service providers to “disclose information in their possession about their customers and subscribers.” He further held that the wall postings and comments also fall under the SCA, but only to the extent that the communications are not public, and remanded to determine the public access allowed under the user’s privacy settings. In so holding, the court provided a detailed analysis of the SCA and noted the difficulty of applying the SCA to modern internet communications.
The Technology & Marketing Law Blog provides an overview of the order and comments on the difficulty of gathering evidence from private Facebook profiles and messages through subpoenas. The Federal Lawyer describes some of the restrictions the SCA places on discovery. (more…)