Twitter – a sort of micro-blogging or SMS messaging that allows one to reach many people quickly, is becoming ever more popular.
Regulation is clear, firms must be able to produce digital files. Now a U.S. Member Congress is using Twitter. Will Congress or the elected officials be able to produce tweets on Twitter in a case of e-discovery or will the judge throw the book at them?
What about the risk against your corporation’s reputation and brand coming from these social networks and social media? What about threats and vulnerabilities?
We tell you what you should watch out for in this post.
A while back we did this
In the above post amongst other things we pointed out that:
- As we explore this wonderful world of cyberspace, we must beware that that whatever we say, write or sing about is being recorded.
This does, of course, also apply to your workforce or colleagues using Twitter at work or from home. Just in case you thought it does not apply, usage numbers are growing rapidly in the U.S. and Europe, as well as Japan.
2008-07-08 – Twitter growth continues despite outages
The above graph from a firm called Hitwise shows that Twitter usage is growing. This growth happens despite the several outages Twitter has had during the last 10 weeks and will likely continue to have in the next few months.
What does this mean for compliance
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure render electronic communicationsfrom both defendants named in a lawsuit and third parties who may have information pertaining to the case admissible in court.
Imagine the case where a subpoena said,
- ‘Here are the 60 named plaintiffs in these lawsuits. For those 60 plaintiffs, give us their tweets or Twitter messages during the course of the meeting or workday’.
Such a request might be approved by the court. Unfortunately, this raises a lot of privacy concerns that one does not necessarily must deal with if the company is just trying to get the things from the people involved in the lawsuit.
Text messages, tweets (140 character messages people send using Twitter) are likely viewed the same way as other forms of digital communication, such as e-mail.
Unfortunately, we also have to beware that whatever we say is recorded. In turn, when your employer is being called by the court to produce something, it is incumbent on you to produce it.
Case study – U.S. Congress using Twitter
This is a no starter if not a no brainer. People will use it from their private smartphone , iPhone and so on during the workday and when off work. Talking about work as well as private matters.
A very legalese debate is happening in the US Senate over the use of Twitter and QIK by senators:
U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, Chairman of the Congressional Commission on Mailing Standards, is aware that using Twitter to reach one’s constitutency means taking advantage of the social media. In fact, U.S. Congressmen John Culberson (R-TX) is using Twitter and QIK these two similar types of message tools for communicating freely with the public. Naturally, by being the first he is racking up all the positive public image points that entails making him even better known, something that might come in handy during re-election time.
One could suggest that all congressmen should emulate this behavior. Naturally, this would require change of some existing House rules that actually forbid members of Congress from posting “official communications” on other sites (webpages, Twitter, and so on).
What does it mean for the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament?
For an elected politician, may it be a minister, senator, member of the European Parliament or an EC Commissioner such as Viviane Reding who loves to Twitter, maybe , sending out tweets to followers – such as one’s constituents – can keep them informed about the latest developments happening on the floor (e.g., how a bill is doing).
Nopnetheless, some legal barriers may have to be removed in some countries to allow elected officials to use social media effectively for the benefit of their constituents.
Also,e-discovery requires that you are able to produce evidence during the discovery process such as e-mails. I am just waiting for the first judge to ask for evidence regarding accused parties’ tweets on Twitter. What will happen if they cannot be produced?
What is your take on this issue?