Saturday, March 14, 2009

Online Privacy Is Dead

This appeared on Law is Cool

Reports of “the dark side of social networking” are thick on the ground as it is, but a recent court decision may renew paranoia that privacy is an artefact of the twentieth century, doomed to join its contemporaries (pagers, Chris Tucker, student activism, literacy, the Ark of the Covenant) in oblivion.

Just weeks after finding that Canadians have no expectation of privacy in their online identities, Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice has ruled that posts on Facebook and other online social networks may be discoverable against their makers, according to the Star’s Tracey Tyler.

Plaintiff John Leduc claims that injuries sustained in a car accident in 2004 have lessened his enjoyment of life. The court found that Leduc may be cross-examined on the contents of his Facebook account where such contents are relevant to his claim — despite the fact that security settings on his account restricted access to his profile to only his close friends.

If Leduc’s Facebook account contained evidence of him

  • exerting himself,
  • stopping to smell roses,
  • “seizing the day” in any fashion, or
  • otherwise engaged in merriment,

such evidence might undermine his claim. Pictures of him sitting on the roof of his car watching the sun set over a northern lake, or snowboarding through thick powder with the caption “Go for it!” beneath him, would be especially damning.

The decision overturns a Superior Court case management master’s ruling that forcing Leduc to produce the contents of his Facebook account amounted to a “fishing expedition”, since there was nothing — except Leduc’s opposition to disclosure — to suggest that any compromising photos in fact existed. Leduc’s profile consisted only of his name and picture.

A search of Facebook for accounts registered to “John Leduc” yielded 129 results — many of whom appeared to be enjoying themselves.

1 comment:

zee said...

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