Is Social Media Subject to Same Rules as Paper Discovery?

by Jay Yurkiw, Technology Law Source, October 23, 2012

In a recent decision, a court in the Southern District of Ohio denied a motion to compel the plaintiff in an employment discrimination action to give the defendants her user names and passwords for each of the social media sites she uses. In Howell v. The Buckeye Ranch, Case No. 2:11-cv-1014 (S. D. Ohio Oct. 1, 2012), the court said “[t]he fact that the information defendants seek is an electronic file as opposed to a file cabinet does not give them the right to rummage through the entire file. The same rules that govern the discovery of information in hard copy documents apply to electronic files.” Applying this reasoning, the court held that the defendants’ discovery request was overbroad because turning over the plaintiff’s user names and passwords would give them access to “all the information in the private sections of her social media accounts—relevant and irrelevant alike.” Although the court denied the motion to compel, it did find that relevant information in the private section of a social media account is discoverable, and that this information is not privileged or protected from discovery by a common law right of privacy.

For the full discussion and citations to other related cases, visit the Technology Law Source at Discovery of Social Media Information is Subject to Same Rules as Paper Discovery : Technology Law Source.

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