We’ve been looking at the use of social media in the criminal process in our last couple posts, focusing particularly on evidentiary issues. As we’ve mentioned, defendants in cases where prosecutors attempt to introduce evidence of social media communications should explore potential authentication issues with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Privacy is another issue that can come up in connection with social media communications. Under federal law, there are various statutory schemes which regulate the possession and use of an individual’s privacy data. One important law is the Stored Communications Act, which regulates the circumstances under which electronic data service and storage providers may reveal customer data. The Stored Communications Act is important as it can restrict prosecutors’ access to communications.
States, too, have their own privacy protections, whether by statute or through common law. In addition to these protections, discovery of social media communications may also sometimes be blocked due to constitutional protections. The circumstances of each case obviously dictate whether and which constitutional protections may apply.
For defendants facing criminal charges which prosecutors are attempting to establish by means of social media evidence, it is important to have the guidance and advocacy of an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the law in this area and how to effectively advocate for a client’s rights and interests. In such cases, effective handling of social media is not going to be the only concern, but knowing how to deal with this issue ca certainly contribute to building a thorough defense case.