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Not a breach of Article 8 to prohibit defendants from using facebook

The High Court ruled that defendants could be prohibited from accessing their facebook accounts, despite this being a violation of their Article 8 rights, because the balance weighed in favour of preserving evidence. 

The plaintiff had sent a sexualised photograph of herself to one of the defendants, at a time when they were in a relationship.  After the relationship ended, the defendants published the photograph.  She asserted that this undermined her independence, her dignity, her right to privacy and was in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.

She sought an order to prohibit the defendants from accessing or altering their facebook accounts and to file an affidavit to set out what access they already had.  The third defendant Facebook Ireland Ltd stated that it could suspend the accounts but in doing so, the evidence contained within those accounts would be lost.  Downloading the information on the accounts would not create a complete record of what appeared on the facebook accounts.  None of the parties wanted to lose evidence and all sought to set aside an earlier order to require facebook to suspend the accounts.

The Court found that the defendants were capable of accessing their facebook accounts and could either unwittingly or deliberately alter the contents.  There was no way of knowing whether they had already done so.  It also found that they had Article 8 rights and a right to access information on their accounts.  The balance was in favour of preserving the evidence; therefore the defendants could not access their accounts and were required to prepare affidavits to set out how they had used those accounts.

Read case summary here.

Tags
ECHR Art. 8, Private Information & Data Protection