In a recent California superior court case, the court discovered that Juror Number One was improperly commenting on the case on Facebook. The judge then forced the juror to “consent” to disclose his private Facebook communications. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is now asking the California Supreme Court to take the case, Juror Number One v. Superior Court, since it violates the Stored Communications Act (SCA) which generally prohibits Facebook and other service providers from disclosing its users’ private communications.
An exception to the SCA’s disclosure prohibition, notes EFF, “is that a provider may divulge the contents of a communication with the ‘lawful consent’ of the originator or an addressee or intended recipient. Here, the trial judge tried to invoke the SCA’s ‘lawful consent’ exception by ordering Juror Number One to consent to Facebook’s disclosure of his postings.”
Some might say that the juror was a jackass in posting about the case and must be held accountable, but such actions do not undercut the user rights granted under SCA. In other words, the juror’s actions are irrelevant—they still have the right to non-disclosed private communications.
If the judge wants Juror Number One’s communications, he must ask for his consent not force it with a sneaky maneuver.