Social media privacy: Insurance companies want access to your Facebook

Social media privacy: Insurance companies want access to your Facebook

Summary: The first thing the insurance lawyers will do in court is to ask plaintiffs if they have Facebook accounts and demand a court order to review those accounts.

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Any town U.S.A. You walk into a store and notice someone you recognize, from Facebook. But you really don't know the individual; only online have you "met" that person. You have shared a note, or played a game on Facebook, Myspace, or other media website. You can choose to say hello or ignore them. That choice is up to you.

Sometime in the future, you wind up in a car accident and suffer physical injuries that you decide can be claimed in a lawsuit against the insurance company. Now your friends on Facebook may not have any choice of getting to know you up close and in person. You may not even be aware that they are being questioned.

Insurance companies are beginning to demand access to information about you and they do not want your explicit consent. In a Globe and Mail report, the insurance industry wants to use sites such as Facebook to collect and use background information collected to contradict any evidence you have used in your claim for damages.

The first thing the insurance lawyers will do in court is to ask plaintiffs if they have Facebook accounts and demand a court order to review those account -- even if you have always had your privacy settings configured to be not searchable by Google or other services. And if somehow they find out that you are on Facebook and you said no, chances are your lawsuit against the insurance company may fail. And so  the game begins. The lawyers will have access to everything about you; your friends are also now exposed and may be questioned about your online habits what you are doing online, personal messages are read and now your friend's privacy is also vulnerable - even if you have never met them in person.

The courts have had electronic document evidence used in the past. The issue of relevancy in a civil suit is new and poses new problems for the courts. So far ,decisions have gone in both directions. The Globe and Mail writes;

Her insurer, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Co. of Canada, looking for evidence that might contradict her story, went to a Brampton, Ont., courtroom last summer. Without her knowledge, Royal & Sun asked a judge to order that she preserve the contents and photos on her Facebook page, and then hand them over, including the parts of her page was set to "private" that could only be viewed by her 67 approved friends.

In October, Mr. Justice David Price denied the insurer's request, ruling that Royal & Sun had failed to prove the page included relevant material, such as photos showing Ms. Schuster engaged in physical activities.

"There are many good reasons unrelated to litigation that people may have to withdraw documents from their friends' view," the judge writes. "Their right to do so should not be lightly interfered with."

And you thought the Internet world was making your life more enjoyable. How you manage information on Facebook, Google Buzz, Myspace account information may have unforeseen future consequences.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Banking, Legal, Social Enterprise

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24 comments
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  • Is this from 4 years ago?

    Insurance companies have been using Myspace and Facebook for years to deny claims. YouTube is also a big source, especially in auto claims. If you think for one second that the Ins Co's are waiting for COURT ORDERS you're out of your damn mind. I've worked in an insurance related field, and see claims denied weekly with evidence collected from social media sites.
    hailpurdue
    • Because people are idiots

      Lazy, stupid Americans are getting what they
      asked for, and deserve. It not a matter of IF
      online postings will come back to haunt you,
      but WHEN.

      Over and over again people are warned not to
      post things online that they wouldn't want the
      entire world to see, but the warnings are
      ignored no matter how many situations like
      these occur.

      I keep pointing out on this blog that "Social
      Media" needs to be treated like drunken
      conversations at a bar - you might say things
      you would normally filter, and you never quite
      know who is listening or might repeat what you
      said. What part of the word "Social" do people
      not understand? There's a reason it isn't
      called "Business media."
      aep528
      • Careful aep, your prejudices are showing...

        [b]Lazy, stupid Americans are getting what they
        asked for, and deserve. It not a matter of IF
        online postings will come back to haunt you,
        but WHEN.[/b]

        Did you even bother to read this article or just want to jump on the "I hate Americans" bandwagon? First sentence in the quoted article is (emphasis mine): [i]Her insurer, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Co. of [u]Canada[/u]...[/i] Tell me how Canada is America? Same physical continent, entirely different country. What part of that did you not understand? Quoted article is of a Canadian woman and yet you hurl insults at Americans? How was that deserved? How was lazy even entering into this? Dude, get a clue.[b]

        Over and over again people are warned not to
        post things online that they wouldn't want the
        entire world to see, but the warnings are
        ignored no matter how many situations like
        these occur.

        I keep pointing out on this blog that "Social
        Media" needs to be treated like drunken
        conversations at a bar - you might say things
        you would normally filter, and you never quite
        know who is listening or might repeat what you
        said. What part of the word "Social" do people
        not understand? There's a reason it isn't
        called "Business media." [/b]

        And what part of "private" is not readily apparent here? Perhaps my understanding of "private" is off but when I activate the privacy settings on my facebook or other social media then it should be private - it's like I was at a large party and said something to several close friends in a room off to the side rather than made an announcement to the party at large. Doing a Google search for example shows NONE of my facebook, twitter, or myspace activity though it does show the activities of others with the same name but without - presumably - their privacy settings on.

        Now getting to the topic at hand, if I file an insurance claim falsely and a representative from that insurance company does a Google search of me and find pictures proving my claim is indeed false then yes I agree they should then be able to file for a court order to obtain further proof... but to have my privacy invaded via a court order with no evidence to prove the claim is false? That is entirely different and is in short a violation of my privacy.
        athynz
        • Prejudice is right

          And for that ignorant comment aep, you can blow it out your backside! Where are you from?
          djmik
          • New York State, USA

            So it turns out you who responded are the ones
            with prejudices because you made false
            assumptions.
            I stand by my statements. Why do you think
            these issues arise in the US? Because Americans
            have become too lazy and stupid to stand up and
            force change on the government, and are too
            lazy and stupid to change their habits after
            seeing others' mistakes. Once law enforcement
            and insurance companies saw the pattern of
            behavior, they realized they could use it to
            their advantage. If Americans woke up from
            their caloric stupor (something like 50% of the
            US can be classified as obese, so that is not a generalization)and paid attention to what they
            posted online, law enforcement and insurance
            companies would back off.
            You can go and put your naive faith in privacy
            controls, but the reality is still just as I
            stated: As soon you as you give data to another person or company, it is a matter of WHEN, not
            IF the data becomes public. Nearly every
            Internet company, including Facebook and
            Google, have stated they will comply with
            subpoenas and court orders.
            aep528
          • Actually, they have no choice

            Subpoena and orders of the court are binding on the affected party within the jurisdiction of a court.
            The providers are not playing footsie with the court, they are doing their legal duty.

            That's why it is OUR duty to only use email, photographic, video and sound files in encrypted form, using strong encryption such as GPU, and use 4096 bit key exchange, the strongest and slowest setting.
            Once keys are exchanged, however, the game doesn't stop.
            Periodically, go to one of your links and test for reproducibility of your exchanged key. Kind of like what smart cards do at the bank.
            If there is ever a discrepancy, delete all old accounts and start over with a new Public / private key, exchange keys MANUALLY with your targets, and issue the new Public key only through those trusted keyholders you visited in person.
            Lot of work, but the spymasters do intend to listen into everything you say and do for the rest of your life.
            Kind of "1984", except they actually CAN do it now.
            mykmlr@...
          • Sad reality

            As harsh as your message might be, I tend to agree with you. Anything posted anywhere, online or otherwise, could eventually be used against the poster if he/she is careless of the nature and details of the posting. So, if you posted it, privacy settings or not, it could come back to bite you in the rear.

            [b]"your friends are also now exposed and may be questioned about your online habits what you are doing online, personal messages are read and now your friend?s privacy is also vulnerable - even if you have never met them in person."[/b]

            What I don't generally agree with in this whole case is lawman going after my friends for information that they could then very possibly twist in such a way that it does support their denial of my legitimate claim.
            This "going after the friends" for information... sounds like a new flavor of McCarthyism to me. And wtf my "online habits"-what I'm doing online, have anything to do with any of this anyway? What's next, a webcam in my bathroom to check if I'm regular?

            I applaud the judge who denied these leeches access to this woman's private information. Some things must remain sacred and that's that.
            jedikitty@...
          • As has been pointed out...

            Insurance claims do have the 'right' to investigate any claim for possible fraud.

            But the hypotheticals it brings up such as

            -witness testimony (are they going to subpeona someone living 5,000 miles away?

            -credibility of information (when was that picture *really* taken)

            -how will lawyers use social information as evidence; behavior / pattern / cause / etc.

            And what happens if the evidence works against the insurance company ? What happens to the information compiled? Is it destroyed, kept for future use (pre-existing history, let alone condition)

            Once used, never deleted...

            Thanks for writing.
            Doug
            doug.hanchard@...
        • American

          Hey dumba$$, this country is called the United
          States of America. America is two continents.
          North and South. If you ask people from South
          America, they consider themselves to be Americans.
          Canadians are also Americans.
          jsanko
          • Which would be fine, except....

            .... that people who are citizens of that country
            sandwiched between Canada and Mexico routinely call
            the themselves "Americans", and say that they are from
            "America". So - if others use the term that has been
            usurped by "Americans" then - you should look in the
            mirror when throwing out insults.
            snberk341
  • RE: Social media privacy: Insurance companies want access to your Facebook

    Why is everyone always ready to fight when the government wants something from its people. But I don't hear anyone with insurance companies wanting to discard people's privacy !?
    TxM2xTx
    • Social media privacy

      what do you want from me ??

      what get I paid?

      cato2605@gmail.com
      Arcticman
  • As if I needed...

    ...another reason not to use Facebook. This is getting easier all the time.

    Carl Rapson
    rapson
  • RE: Social media privacy: Insurance companies want access to your Facebook

    Relevancy is the key, and probable cause comes into play. Aep528, asside from his insensitive prejudiced comments, makes a good point about privacy online, but with the security settings in place that FB provides, people are given a reasonable sense that they control their content and who can see it.

    These companies can't just go on fishing expeditions expecting to find something when they don't even know what they are looking for. In criminal law, this is called illegal search and sesure. Why private companies even think they have more power than lawe enforcement is very disturbing.
    djmik
  • daluci
  • Another "Big Brother"

    Yeah, this is nothing new, there has been Big Brother watching you for years, its just been put in the media now, and now because now its on the news now its not a "conspiracy".Even though this is not the government, it still falls under the same category. We have no, and have not had, and will not ever have any privacy. Insurance companies need to do their own private investigating if they indeed feel they are being fraudulently taken advantage of. Not violate our constitutional rights to personal privacy. We do still have some rights to privacy, but they are few and far between, we need to step up and speak out against this. Otherwise we will lose all our rights eventually. Write your congressman, make phone calls, raise your voice and be heard, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. We can not, and will not bow down to the communistic threats of all of the "Big Brothers".
    Join your local Tea Party and be heard.
    EastWind the Infidel
    roxspyder@xvarmint.com
    roxspyder
  • So what?

    If you live your life openly, who cares? Short of publishing my SSN, my life is an open book. The concerns over data "breaches" for social networking are just plain silly. The only time basic privacy violations matter is if you do something wrong.

    This being said, what we need to regulate is what people do with information. For example:

    - Government surveillance

    - Insurance discrimination/pre-existing conditions/genetic exclusions.

    - Employment decisions.

    - Unauthorized resale of information for marketing purpose.

    Once privacy is violated, it can't be undone. Consequently, I think it is much more important to control the decisions people make with data they collect or can find online.

    With respect to data collected, use of personal data should always be an opt in. This includes data that can be accessed with a web crawler on social networking sites. Why should an organization be given carte blanche to resell a database they have built only because I do business with them?

    Privacy cannot be protected, but decisions made with the use of personal data can be.
    weisschr
  • I say go ahead

    I'm not stupid enough to post anything dangerous to the net, reguarless. I don't see what people's need is, to post the stupidity of their lives. Why is it you need to give out your name, address, phone number, etc to every site in the country? When sites ask me for anything but my name I give them garbage. I've yet to find a site that can really force me to give real info about myself, no matter their testing (like zip codes, or even physcial addresses.)

    It's none of their business, and I don't care how wonderful it'd make my life, and make food rain from the sky, they will NOT get it.

    When I do business on the net I do give a pick up spot, but I don't give out my real phone number (it's a dummy one) or real address. So insurance companies want my facebook page? Go ahead. I'll give them my web site too!

    But there's nothing on them.

    - Kc
    kcredden2
    • Facebook isn't the real issue here.

      Yeah, if you put it out for the world to see, the world is going to look. But if you have your privacy settings set to only allow your friends to view your stuff, then you haven't put it out for the world to see. Once companies can snoop without cause (fishing) through your private stuff on a server, how long will it be before they can snoop through your photo albums at home, or go to the homes of people who they suspect of being your friend and snooping through their stuff. Maybe it would be o.k. with you if strangers decided that they need to inventory your things and take some of them for evidence because you met someone at the restraunt and they are being investigated. But I do not.
      guywayne
  • RE: Social media privacy: Insurance companies want access to your Facebook

    Well, that's no different than any other organization of collection of friends and acquaintances you may have via many other avenues, really. It's just another source of information for them and nothing any different than what they previously had available except it's online. E-mails, the whole computer etc. have long been used for evidence; same difference.
    And once again, if you have nothing to hide, are honest and scrupulous, you've nothing to worry about anyway. If however you are a lying sack of ego and narcissism that loves to lie and belittle anything or anyone who doesn't agree with you and with any power over you, then you almost deserve to be pulled in and maybe even convicted. You sow what you reap in these situations.
    twaynesdomain-22354355019875063839220739305988