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Court orders Facebook to disclose information behind deletion of deceased person’s Facebook account

In Sabados v Facebook Ireland Ltd (2018; unreported) His Honour Judge Parkes QC (sitting as a Judge of the High Court) ordered Facebook Ireland to disclose information pertaining to a request which it had received (and acted upon) to delete the account of a deceased person.

Facebook Ireland Limited was, until recently, responsible for all user accounts of the global social networking service, outside the US and Canada (it moved responsibility for all non-EU accounts back to the US, prior to the recent implementation of the GDPR). The Claimant, Ms Sabados, a British citizen, sought information which may enable her to identify the person who had contacted Facebook to request deletion of her late partner’s account. Ms Sabados argues that the messages which she exchanged with her partner via his account constituted her personal data, and that its deletion may constitute a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998. She further argues that the deletion of the account may constitute a misuse of her private information. Her application against Facebook was made under the Court’s Norwich Pharmacal jurisdiction, in which a claimant must satisfy the Court only that there is a ‘good arguable case’ that there has been wrongdoing (as opposed to setting out the full extent of the wrongdoing or demonstrating that any subsequent claim is likely to succeed). There is no guarantee that the Claimant will receive information of use (respondents to Norwich Pharmacal applications often refuse to confirm whether they hold potentially relevant data ahead of the grant of relief, and even where they do, the information often proves inadequate to identify the person concerned), but if she does it may lead to a relatively novel claim.

To read more about identifying the anonymous, Norwich Pharmacal Orders, and how Brett Wilson can assist you to obtain one, click here


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