A Connecticut Judge has ordered a soon-to-be ex-husband and ex-wife to exchange their Facebook and dating website passwords in connection with their pending divorce.
According to the husband’s divorce attorney, his client saw incriminating messages on the computer he shares with his wife at home which made him suspect there would be more evidence in her social networking accounts, including how she feels about her children and her ability to take care of them, which would be relevant in the pending divorce case. During a deposition, the husband’s attorney asked the wife for her Facebook, E-Harmony and Match.com passwords. After initially refusing, she was instructed by her lawyer to disclose them [note: questionable legal advice]. It then appears that the wife immediately texted her friend and asked the person to change the passwords and delete some messages. Upon learning of this, the husband’s attorney obtained an injunction that the wife not delete any material with the Court further ordering the attorneys to exchange passwords for both spouses so the attorneys could conduct discovery.
On its face, the ruling violates Facebook’s s requirement that users not turn over their passwords to anyone. However, being judicially ordered to do so in the above circumstances and despite the fact that the ruling is highly privacy-invasive, it is certainly not the last word on this subject as the law and technology will continue to interface and evolve.