A Connecticut judge has ordered a divorcing couple to hand over the passwords of their respective Facebook and online dating websites to each other's lawyers.
New London District Superior Court Judge Kenneth Shluger imposed the ruling on Stephen and Courtney Gallion Sept. 29. The decision is intended to aid the lawyers in the discovery process of the divorce case, which will involve custody of the couple's children. Shluger said neither of the Gallions will be allowed to view the other's websites.
Kashmir Hill of Forbes reported that the issue was raised when Stephen looked at his wife's Facebook profile and found certain evidence about her feelings toward him, the children and her ability to take care of them.
Stephen told his lawyer, Gary Traystman, who believed the online evidence would help his client during the divorce proceedings and ensuing custody battle. During a deposition, Traystman asked Courtney for the passwords to her Facebook account as well as online dating accounts she had created on EHarmony and Match.com.
On her own lawyer's advice, Courtney yielded the passwords, but then, according to Traystman, she asked a friend to change them and delete some of her messages. Upon hearing this, Traystman went to the judge and asked him to issue the injunction.
Shluger ordered the handover and added the next day: "Neither party shall visit the website of the other's social network and post messages purporting to be the other."
Forbes' Hill called the ruling "court-authorized hacking." Hill added that the judge's ruling forces both parties to violate Facebook's terms of service, which says users should not hand over their passwords to anyone.
A look at Stephen's MySpace profile, under the name FreeTime showed the couple in a much happier light. Lining the comments section were messages from Courtney reading, "Hey husband I love you so much!" and "Hey baby I love you so much. Muah! I'm so lucky to have you. Hayden and you are my life. I love our little family." The most recent post was from one year ago.
Courtney's MySpace profile was less telling, although the last song she played, on May 15, was titled "Stephen."