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Supreme Court

It seems like every person uses at least one form of social media; some people have multiple accounts. Such platforms allow individuals the opportunity to connect and share their opinions about just about anything. At the same time, while men and women want their ability to share safeguarded, they also want their privacy protected.

The right to privacy in the realm of social media is a hot button topic currently. Reports of data mining or selling of information to third parties has been the source of significant anger across America. It’s probably fair to say that most of us can agree that there should be some expectation of privacy on social media platforms.

Since practically everyone has social media in their lives, in one way or another, it goes without saying that people who break the law do as well. There have been many instances of law enforcement determining the identity of criminals via Facebook.

Up until recently, only law enforcement agencies could compel social media companies to grant access to a person’s social media account, the Los Angeles Times reports. Now, the California Supreme Court has ruled that a defense team has the right to access private postings on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Social Media Companies Must Provide Private Posts

In 2018, the California Supreme Court decided that the defense attorney(s) in a gang case could have access to social media postings that were public. However, they did not rule on gaining access to private posts. The decision will not be binding on other courts.

California defense attorneys have been trying to gain access to social media accounts that may contain exculpatory evidence since 2008, according to the article. Companies like Facebook have been fighting such efforts citing the Stored Communications Act. They have said that federal privacy law prohibits their cooperation.

The case in question stems from a 2013 gang-related, drive-by-shooting in San Francisco, according to the article. One of the defendants in the murder case said that he had interacted with one of the victims on social media.

The Supreme Court’s ruling sets a precedent that will likely be cited in other cases. An attorney who thinks their clients can benefit from gaining access to private postings will want similar allowances.


Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

Attorney Ronald G. Brower has more than three decades of experience practicing law in California. His has a reputation for bringing about favorable outcomes for defendants, which makes him an ideal choice for any person facing criminal charges in need of legal representation. Please contact our office today for more information.

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