12 Good Men – and Facebook

Joanne Fraill received an 8-month jail sentence last week, for contempt of court; she was using Facebook whilst on jury service to contact a defendant in the midst of a serious criminal trial. Ms Fraill not only passed details of the jury’s deliberations to the defendant but also used the Internet to research information about another defendant in the same case. Her actions resulted in the trial being abandoned, leaving the taxpayer to foot a bill of some £6m.

Most news reports have focused on the fact that Fraill is the first juror to be convicted of contempt of court based on the use of social media. They note that the custodial sentence sends out a clear message that contempt of court is taken very seriously, whatever the mechanism.

However, another point that also needs to be made and understood concerns the effect that social media (and technology in general) is having on our daily lives. Mobile Internet access, delivering real-time messaging, is commonplace in today’s society – we have already seen social media being used to breach privacy injunctions. No longer will individuals be able to hide behind the argument that social media platforms render areas of the law pointless. It is a fact that the Law will assert itself against the misuse of social media; the Fraill prosecution is testament to the Attorney General’s warning last week that the Rule of Law will be defended against the threat posed by social media.

If, within your organization, you are responsible for controlling and governing the use of social media by employees (and especially if you facilitate its uncontrolled use) then you could be the one who is held accountable for the actions of your employees on social media sites.

Are you Social Media savvy? Do you understand your responsibilities? Do you know all the potential privacy pitfalls associated with the use of Social Media?

At Regency IT Consulting we do. We can provide you with consultants and technology to put in place Social Media governance and monitoring that will keep you compliant with UK and EU legislation – and clear of the UK Information Commissioner’s hit-list.