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Damaged Data – First Conviction for Hijacked Social Media Account

24 July 2014

Mason Hayes & Curran Technology Law Blog

The Irish Courts recently witnessed a new first when a man was convicted for causing criminal damage to a social media account. This unprecedented sentence was handed down by Mr Justice Sheehan. The accused pleaded guilty to the charge, meaning that it was not necessary for the prosecution to prove the elements of the offence. Even so, this was an interesting case which raises a number of novel issues for Irish law.

Data Protection News: First Conviction for Hijacked Social Media AccountWhat happened?

The incident in question occurred when the accused and the victim were in a relationship. The accused was said to have stolen the victim’s mobile phone following an argument and to have posted an explicit status on her Facebook account. It was noted in court that the status had been quickly spotted and taken down. Despite this, and despite the accused’s guilty plea, the judge described the action as a “reprehensible offence” causing damage to the victim’s good name.

This case followed separate criminal proceedings involving the victim and the accused, as a result of which the identities of both parties were concealed.

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