I’m about to reveal that I am a hopeless Old Fart, but I don’t understand why anyone other that a public figure uses Facebook. It has been demonstrated that anything on Facebook can and probably will be used against you. If you have a dispute or someone took an obsessive romantic interest in them, it would normally take some doing (like hiring a private detective) to try to find dirt. By making what would have been private information pubic, Facebook greatly lowers the cost of people with bad intentions toward you making your life miserable.
One development overseas that may be coming to the US is using Facebook to send legal notices, such as foreclosure notices. As Bloomberg informs us (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin), this practice has been accepted by courts in Australia, Canada, and the UK.
This article triggered my “planted story” detector, since the piece kept stressing how there were no privacy issues involved (well, that’s close to tautological given how Facebook works) and had virtually no negative views expressed about this practice being adopted in the US.
Now some might argue that this development could eliminate some abuses, since in Florida, for instance, there are numerous instances of “sewer service”, meaning the process server falsely claimed that papers were served properly upon a delinquent borrower. But it would also allow for people to be served maliciously, say to initiate litigation they were out of the country and would find it even more difficult and stressful to organize their response. And I’m loath to accept the belief that Facebook is “reliable” and “secure”. The Department of Defense and quite a few companies have had their systems hacked; the latest victim is Lockheed Martin, with the end result that some formerly secure login tokens used by over 40 million corporate users have been compromised. And even though the security breach occurred in March, the company waited months before taking action. From the Wall Street Journal:
RSA Security is offering to provide security monitoring or replace its well-known SecurID tokens—devices used by millions of corporate workers to securely log on to their computers—”for virtually every customer we have,” the company’s Chairman Art Coviello said in an interview.
In a letter to customers Monday, the EMC Corp. unit openly acknowledged for the first time that intruders had breached its security systems at defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. using data stolen from RSA.
SecurID tokens have become a fixture of office life at thousands of corporations, used when employees log onto computers or sensitive software systems. The token is an essential piece of security, acting as an ever-changing password that flashes a series of six digits that should be virtually impossible to duplicate…
In March EMC disclosed it had been hit by a sophisticated cyberattack on its SecurID products. It advised customers to beef up their own security, such as making sure no rogue programs had been installed on servers running RSA software. It also suggested users increase the length of employee “PIN” numbers used in tandem with the digits spit out by the RSA token.
EMC believed the ultimate target of the attack was defense contractors. The broader point is that even companies whose business is that of providing secure systems can’t make it foolproof. We’ve had enough snafus from “innovations” like MERS and securitization, which in theory were beneficial but bad implementation undermined their potential, that a lot of Americans would be understandably wary of new measures on the legal front. From Bloomberg:
Two years after an Australian lawyer caused a stir by sending a foreclosure notice via Facebook, the practice of online legal service is spreading as a means for courts to keep their dockets moving.
Courts in New Zealand, Canada and the U.K. have adopted the Australian example to avoid having cases stall when people can’t be located and served in person. Lawyers said the U.S. may not be far behind in using the world’s most popular social- networking service.
“There are people who exist only online,” said Joseph DeMarco, co-chair of the American Bar Association’s criminal justice cyber crime committee, and a lawyer at New York-based DeVore & DeMarco LLP. Being able to serve documents by social- media networks would be a useful tool, he said.
While Facebook Inc. is under regulatory and legal scrutiny in countries including the U.S., South Korea and Germany for failing to protect user data, privacy advocates said that serving court notices by mail or in person often already provokes privacy complaints. Therefore using Facebook doesn’t raise any new issues….
“It seems only logical now that tools like Facebook or Twitter be used” to contact people who can’t be traced using traditional means, said Daniel Hamilton, director of Big Brother Watch in London, noting such efforts don’t violate personal privacy. “Now is it desirable? No.”…
The challenge would be to collect enough proof to convince a court the accountholder is the right person and the page is checked often enough to ensure it’s a fair path of notification, DeMarco said. This would need to be done without violating ethics codes that would prevent lawyers from “friending” the target under false pretenses to get past security settings.
“Nothing on its face in New York state or federal law precludes it,” DeMarco said.
There are countries, like France and Germany, where electronic delivery isn’t allowed in any form. French law requires delivery in person.
“It wouldn’t be admissible procedurally to send a message by Facebook,” said Matthieu Bonduelle, head of France’s Magistrates’ Union.
English court rules permit electronic document service, said Danvers Baillieu, a technology-law specialist in London.
“As far as the law is concerned, it’s just a method of delivery,” he said. “The precise form of technology is neither here nor there.”