The problem with amassing huge troves of digital information is that, sooner or later, someone will try and nab one of them. Like the twisted judge in Connecticut who ordered divorcing spouses to swap Facebook and online dating passwords, and the other judges following in his footsteps.
Judge Kenneth Schluger ruled that the couple must trade passwords after the husband claimed he saw evidence pertaining to his wife's child care abilities on a shared computer. In so doing, the judge went way beyond the normal reach of legal discovery, in which, as Forbes' Kashmir Hill notes, "a litigant is usually asked to turn over 'responsive material' not the keys to access all that material and more."
Yet this is hardly the only case of forcefully exposing whole online identities for pillaging; Hill points to a personal injury case in which a judge demanded a Facebook password be given to opposing counsel, and another in which a judge conducted his own virtual strip search of a Facebook account to determine if anything in it should be given to the defense.
These types of orders are approximately as outrageous as customs agents being allowed to search your entire computer when you enter the country or local police being allowed to paw freely through your iPhone when they arrest you.
This is the dark side of personal technology advances, of every increase in flash storage capacity or acceleration in upload and download speed: the more data you can fit in a particular device or on a particular website, the more vulnerable you are to data plunder. The government should be helping to mitigate this problem, but of course, times being what they are, it's usually just making things worse, or actively participating.
[Image via Shutterstock.com]