Tuesday, January 8, 2013

You Have the Right to Remain Silent…On Facebook

There is a reason that our nation was founded on principles of limited government.  This is because State power always have dominant privileges over the common man by the sheer force that they can exert on individuals and businesses alone.  When left unchecked, such power means trumping all freedoms that man was meant to naturally enjoy.

In our modern world, this has become ever more crucial as the justice system seems to favor prosecutors over defense attorneys all the time:

U.S. courts have a structural bias against “guilty” verdicts, but when it comes to Facebook data the situation is reversed: Social media activity is more readily used to convict you in a court of law than to defend you.

That’s because prosecutors generally have an easier time than defense attorneys getting private information out of Facebook and other social networks, as highlighted in an ongoing Portland murder case. In that case, the defense attorney has evidence of a Facebook conversation in which a key witness reportedly tells a friend he was pressured by police into falsely incriminating the defendant.

Facebook rebuffed the defense attorney’s subpoena seeking access to the conversation, citing the federal Stored Communications Act, which protects the privacy of electronic communications like e-mail – but which carves out an exemption for law enforcement, thus assisting prosecutors. “It’s so one-sided … they cooperate 110 percent anytime someone in the government asks for information,” one Oregon attorney told the Portland Oregonian, citing a separate case in which Facebook withheld conversations that could have disproved a rape charge, but turned over the same conversations when the prosecution demanded them.

Other defense attorneys voice similar complaints, and the judge in the murder case went so far as to call Facebook “flippant” and “frustrating” in its handling of the defense’s subpoenas. Facebook, for its part, has said it is inundated with judicial requests and tries to handle them uniformly within the confines of the law.

The trouble, it would seem, is that the law itself is not so uniform. As more and more communication shifts onto social networks like Facebook, the pro-prosecution bias of the Stored Communications Act is going to look less like a peculiar legislative oversight and more like a frightening erosion of the right to a fair trial. And if Facebook and its competitors want people to share more freely online, they should use their lobbying resources to fix that particular law.

When the police tell you that you have a right to remain silent and that anything you say can be used against you in a court of law, what they mean is that the police can never, ever testify on your behalf, but only to convict to you.  This is why you do not talk to cops, on duty or otherwise, as the entire justice system has become heavily weighed in the favor of the State rather than the people.

And now, this applies to Facebook as well.  Apparently, the social media site crumbles whenever a prosecutor requests information relevant to his or her cases but when a defense attorney requests it, suddenly it’s an invasion of privacy.  I don’t blame the Facebook administrators for doing what they do; they are more than likely coerced by the full power of the State which backs up the prosecutor.  A defense attorney is simply an independent lawyer who has to play by the rules that the rest of the peons have to as well.

This is why there is a severe need for massive judicial reform at all levels.  Laws need to be repealed and the prosecutors need to be severely limited in what they can do when making a case against a defendant.  Unfortunately, due to the massive amount of cop dramas and courtroom dramas that have gained prominence in the past couple of decades, people have been brainwashed into thinking that the State’s cronies can do no wrong and that even if there are some bad apples, they are taken down like a regular criminal.

From what I’ve seen with the real world, that is not at all how it works.

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