Are you in control of your digital self? ABA Journal web producer Lee Rawles talks with Lori Andrews, author of I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy about the lack of online privacy rights and the need for a social media constitution.
They discuss the changes that social networks have brought to all areas of the law, including evidence gathering; what evidence is admissible in courts; how social media can affect the right to a fair trial; and the right to control one’s image. Andrews touches on how secret data aggregation about your online activities can affect the price of your health insurance, the advertisements you see, what jobs you qualify for and the limits on your credit card balance.
THE EVOLVING CONSTITUTION: HOW FACEBOOK, GOOGLE AND TWITTER CAUSE PROBLEMS FOR THE RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL
The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides for the right to a fair trial. Jurors are supposed to decide a case based on what they hear in the courtroom, not what they read in the news media. They’re not allowed to talk about the case with others so they don’t base their decision on the influence of a friend or relative, rather than their own judgment. They can’t visit the scene of the crime on their own or conduct their own investigations.
Before Facebook, Twitter and Google, it was pretty easy to keep jurors in line. If a case garnered attention in the local press, a judge could order a change of venue so that the case was heard in another town. If the court was worried about outside influences, the jurors could be sequestered. But now with a quick search on a smartphone—or a peek at a defendant’s Facebook page—jurors are routinely breaching the right to a fair trial, and courts, lawyers, and legislatures are trying to figure out what to do about it.