Protecting Online Privacy for Legal Purposes
Facebook and Social Media – Not Private
It’s human nature to share what’s going on in our lives. The good, the bad and the ugly. People going through a divorce, criminal matter or other trauma, want to vent, rant and rave. In today’s world that usually means online. So you tell everyone on Facebook or Twitter or Google+ about that rotten no good skunk spouse or significant other. Or you rant about how the police are railroading you!!! That is the last thing a person should do on Facebook and social media. Protect your online privacy, avoid ranting on social media.
Online Privacy, What is that?
First you must know that social media forums are NOT private and not confidential. Rather, ranting on social media is the same as going to a crowded mall and using a loudspeaker to air your dirty laundry. As a result, whoever sees your online post is a potential witness against you. This often includes coworkers and bosses of yours or your spouse. Similarly, social media accounts generate evidence that can be subpoenaed into court. Therefore, you must protect your online privacy and privileged communication by not disclosing it to the virtual world.
Venting on Social Media Could Be Criminal
The United States Supreme Court recently reviewed a case relating to privacy rights on Facebook. This case involved an estranged husband’s post which was taken as a threat to his wife and others. So, was the husband permitted to “vent” and preserve online privacy? Ultimately, the high Court held that the statements did not meet a criminal standard. Albeit, the statements would meet a civil tort standard. Certainly, a statement that creates civil liability should be avoided.
Email Communications at Work are not Private
Although the legal ramifications are still open to a great deal of debate in the courts, it is becoming increasingly clear that electronic mail – email – is owned by the employer not the employee. Several courts have held that the company owns the communication transmitted through its network and using its devices. As a result, your own personal email addresses are not guaranteed privacy. This also includes emails between the employee and an attorney or doctor.
Attorneys and other legal professionals use email to communicate with clients. Attorney-client privilege protects such communication. However, the client may waive this privilege by using devices not owned by the client. Certainly, you need to discuss email communication practices with your attorney. Above all never communicate privileged information via email, especially if it is not your personal device and not on a protected network.
Know your legal rights related to online privacy
In order to protect your privacy and confidential communication avoid sharing such issues on social media. Also avoid communicating such matters through employer owned networks and devices. Finally, seek more information about online privacy and your legal rights by consulting with a legal professional.