The Volokh Conspiracy

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The Gambia v. Myanmar & Facebook


The opinion, handed down yesterday by Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui (D.D.C.) is too complex for me to summarize, but it's very interesting, and I thought I'd pass it along. Here's a brief excerpt from a story at Reuters (Poppy Mcpherson):

A U.S. federal judge has ordered Facebook … to release records of accounts connected to anti-Rohingya violence in Myanmar that the social media giant had shut down, rejecting its argument about protecting privacy as "rich with irony"….

Facebook had refused to release the data, saying it would violate a U.S. law barring electronic communication services from disclosing users' communications.

But the judge said the posts, which were deleted, would not be covered under the law and not sharing the content would "compound the tragedy that has befallen the Rohingya".

Here's the introduction from the opinion, which is denominated In re Application Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782 of The Republic of the Gambia:

By Facebook's own admission it was "too slow to respond to the concerns raised" about its role in the genocide of the Rohingya, an ethnic and religious minority in Myanmar.  In 2018, roughly six years into the genocide, Facebook began deleting accounts and other content from its platform used by Myanmar government agents that sparked the genocide….

The Republic of The Gambia … seeks the content Facebook deleted for use in The Gambia's litigation against the Republic of the Union of Myanmar … at the International Court of Justice …. The Gambia seeks these records for "evidence of genocidal intent necessary to support a finding of responsibility for genocide" of the Rohingya. Facebook argues that The Gambia's request: (1) violates the Stored Communications Act ("SCA"), and (2) is unduly burdensome…. The Court GRANTS The Gambia's application in part and DENIES it in part.