Facebook, Inc. v. Superior Court of the City and County of San FranciscoAnnotate this Case
Communications configured by the social media user to be public fall within the lawful consent exception to the federal Stored Communications Act’s prohibition on disclosure by social media providers of any communication. See 18 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.
The district court denied motions to quash filed by Petitioners - Facebook, Inc., Instagram, LLC, and Twitter, Inc. Petitioners sought to quash subpoenas served on them by two criminal defendants seeking public and private communications from the social media accounts of a homicide victim and a prosecution witness. The appellate court directed the trial court to quash the subpoenas. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeal’s decision and remanded the matter, holding (1) the court of appeal correctly found the subpoenas unenforceable under the Act with respect to communications addressed to specific persons and communications that were and have remained configured by the registered user to be restricted; but (2) the court of appeal erred in holding that section 2702 of the Act does not bar disclosure by providers of communications that were configured by the registered user to be public and that remained so configured at the time the subpoenas were issued. Rather, under section 2702(b)(3)’s lawful consent exception, a provider must disclose any such communication pursuant to a subpoena that is authorized under state law.