Imagine Being on Trial. With Exonerating Evidence Trapped on Your Phone.
Facebook, Google and Twitter have particular on-line portals for legislation enforcement businesses, which make it more straightforward for them to request knowledge from customers’ accounts. But there are not any similar portals for public defenders. When Mr. Greco, in New York, needs to ship a subpoena to Facebook, he has to get a pass judgement on to log off on it in California and rent a server to ship it in particular person to the corporate’s place of work in Menlo Park.
“They make it supereasy for legislation enforcement and superhard for everybody else,” mentioned Mr. Greco. “They should make portals for public defenders.”
“People expect us to keep their information private, and we believe strongly that federal law requires us to do so,” mentioned a Facebook spokeswoman, Rochelle Nadhiri, through electronic mail. “That’s why we have strict guidelines for sharing information in response to requests for their information.”
In a impending article for the U.C.L.A. Law Review, Rebecca Wexler, an assistant professor of legislation on the University of California, Berkeley, argues that “exceptions to privacy laws that enable law enforcement to access sensitive information should also apply to criminal defense investigators.”
Ms. Wexler cites the case of Lee Sullivan and Derrick Hunter, two California males accused of homicide. “Sullivan tried to subpoena Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for private messages that would show that the sole witness who placed him at the scene was lying, but the companies refused to comply, arguing that a federal privacy law from 1986 prevented it,” Ms. Wexler writes. “That left Sullivan and co-defendant Derrick Hunter in jail six years awaiting trial without key evidence to test the credibility of the witnesses against them.”
A pass judgement on ordered the firms at hand over the knowledge previous this yr, however they resisted; he held them in contempt in July. “Facebook and Twitter have made it clear that they are unwilling to alter their behavior, regardless of the harm to others — or the rulings of this court,” the pass judgement on, Charles Crompton, wrote.
Giovanna Falbo, a spokeswoman for Twitter, mentioned, “We have taken a stand against the state court’s order in this case because we believe that it violates the federal Stored Communications Act and undermines a key purpose of that law — to protect individuals’ privacy rights in electronic communications.”