The rise of social networking and technological dependance has created many gray areas in various legal issues. One area of law that has been complicated by social networking specifically is family law.
Sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and more have become sources of evidence for divorce attorneys throughout the country in recent years. A current out-of-state child custody case provides an example of a family law judge who some critics believe is violating boundaries of privacy, boundaries that apparently need to be clearly set in this world of the web.
According to Forbes, a judge in Connecticut has ordered an estranged husband and wife in the process of divorce to give their social networking passwords out to their attorneys in order for each side to use such networks for potential evidence in the family law matter. The couple is apparently in the midst of a child custody dispute, and the father believes that there is evidence on his estranged wife’s social media networks that would work in his favor toward getting full custody.
This isn’t the first case in which the court has used information from Facebook, for example, to try to support an argument. This is happening in family law cases and personal injury cases as well. With daily updates and pictures, social networking sites can be extremely effective in documenting purported behaviors of a party.
Just because something might be effective, however, does not mean that it is ethically sound. Critics see the judge’s orders in the above-mentioned child custody dispute as controversial. The essence of a password is that it protects a person’s privacy. If a judge can simply demand that a password be revealed, privacy ends up feeling like it’s always been a mere illusion — which many see as too startling of a reality to ignore.
What do you think about a couple that’s getting divorced being required to give up their social networking passwords? Is there really privacy in the world of the internet, or do you think that the information we put out there is fair game in legal disputes?
Forbes: “Judge Orders Divorcing Couple To Swap Facebook And Dating Site Passwords,” Kashmir Hill, Nov. 7, 2011