I’m not sure what would possess Singapore’s high Court and legal system officials to consider using Facebook as an official tool of the litigation process, but that’s just what the ABA Law Journal reported this week. A proposal would allow service through social media if traditional methods proved unsuccessful. Although this has already been done in countries like Australia, whose common law legal system isn’t too far removed from our own in the U.S., it’s difficult to see this gaining much traction here soon. Not to say that we couldn’t use an update to current means of service to otherwise unavailable parties. We currently allow service via newspaper classified ad! But then again, could you imagine a section on Craigslist for notices of impending lawsuits?
Other proposed ways of incorporating new technology would be to use file sharing networks to host discovery documents. Rather than require the court to maintain servers and submission systems, this could substantially reduce courts’ overhead, but the myriad security concerns for sensitive legal documents on these servers would have litigants out with torches and pitchforks. I admire Singapore for being progressively-minded on the use of technology (rather than only looking on it with fear and loathing), however, standardization is essential for maximum access and longevity of an important system. Right now, there is barely any standardization in social media. So many networks exist and few can talk to each other efficiently. If I were in the Court’s shoes, I would be sure to think long and hard about how best to make use of these technologies before entrusting people’s legal rights to a system in a constant state of flux.