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In the United States, do social network companies have the legal right to provide user information directly to police, without order or subpoena, when such users post content about depression and self-harm, in order to prevent suicide or other self-harm?

  • Edits made to show what the question is about, unless the OP has major criticism of the new form, reopening please? @feetwet – Nij Mar 4 '18 at 5:33
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    I suggest also answering whether the company is legally required to tell the police, or tell anyone else. – gnasher729 Mar 4 '18 at 17:22
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This is what I found out:

The Stored Communication Act limits the ability of Inernet Service Prоviders tо vоluntarily disclоse infоrmatiоn abоut their custоmers and subscribеrs tо thе gоvеrnmеnt. (See id. § 2702)

Exceptions (3), (6), (7), and (8) set fоrth spеcific instances in which providers may disclose communications. See § 2702(b).

The еighth (8) allоws disclоsurе tо a gоvеrnmеntal entity if the prоvider bеliеvеs an emergеncy invоlving dеath оr sеrious bodily injury requires disclosure. 


According to Facebook's policy: " We may also access, preserve and share information when we have a good faith belief it is necessary to: detect, prevent and address fraud and other illegal activity; to protect ourselves, you and others, including as part of investigations; or to prevent death or imminent bodily harm."

Facebook also has a "Law Enforcement Online Request" page on their website, only if you are "a law enforcement agent or emergency responder who is authorized to gather evidence in connection with an official investigation or in order to investigate an emergency involving the danger of serious physical injury or death"

To sum it up, social network companies don't have the legal right to provide user information directly to police (law enforcement) without subpoena, search warrant or Court order.

Social network companies do have a legal right to disclose user information, in case if they have a good faith belief it is necessary to: detect, prevent and address fraud and other illegal activity; to protect ourselves, you and others, including as part of investigations; or to prevent death or imminent bodily harm.

  • On Facebook, some information is publicly visible, but might not get noticed. I wonder if it would be legal for Facebook and tell the police "you might want to have a look at the Facebook site of John Doe", if that site is something that anyone, including any police officer, could have seen if they wanted. – gnasher729 Mar 7 '18 at 20:44

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