No privacy violation for disclosing information otherwise available on member-only website

Plaintiff sued several defendants related to her past work as a government employee. She sought to amend her pleadings to add claims for violation of the Fourth Amendment and the federal Stored Communications Act. She claimed that defendants wrongfully disclosed private medical information about her. The court denied her motion to amend the pleadings to add the Fourth Amendment and Stored Communications Act claims because such amendments would have been futile.

Specifically, the court found there to be no violation because she had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the information allegedly disclosed. She had made that information available on a website. Though to view the information required signing up for an account, plaintiff had not set up the website to make the information available only to those she invited to view it. The court relied on several cases from earlier in the decade that addressed the issue of privacy of social media content, among them Rosario v. Clark Cty. Sch. Dist., 2013 WL 3679375 (D. Nev. July 3, 2013), which held that one has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her tweets, even if he or she had maintained a private account. In that case, the court held that even if the social media user maintained a private account, his tweets still amounted to the dissemination of information to the public.

Burke v. New Mexico, 2018 WL 2134030 (D.N.M. May 9, 2018)

About the Author: Evan Brown is a Chicago technology and intellectual property attorney. Call Evan at (630) 362-7237, send email to ebrown [at] internetcases.com, or follow him on Twitter @internetcases. Read Evan’s other blog, UDRP Tracker, for information about domain name disputes.