Monday, January 7, 2013

Facebook’s Stance On Protecting User Data Challenged In Oregon Murder Case

Link to full story is here

Facebook has been cooperating with law-enforcement officials for some time when it comes to handing over user data as evidence in court cases. But the situation is less clear when those legal requests are made by others — a predicament being highlighted right now in a murder case in Oregon, where the social network has (so far) refused to comply with requests from the defense team of a murder suspect to provide data that could prove beneficial to the defendant’s case.

The case has some potentially big consequences. If Facebook gets held in contempt of the court for not handing over the data, it could be required to pay up to one percent of its profits as a penalty. Facebook reported $1 billion in profits in 2011, and for the first three quarters of 2012 has reported profits of $811 million.

On the other hand, if Facebook does end up providing the data as requested by the defense team, it could end up setting a precedent for how it and other companies like Google and Twitter will be required to share private user data in the future in legal defense cases, with or without user consent. That could be a boost for defense teams, but a potential setback for individual users whose data may be in question.

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