A Manhattan federal judge has ruled that the Federal Trade Commission can serve five individuals based in India through Facebook.
The individuals are accused of running a scheme that tricked Americans into spending money they didn’t need to in order to fix non-existent computer issues. There are a number of factors in the ruling which indicate what prompted the judge to rule as he did:
- India, as a member of the Hague Convention, has voiced no objections previously to this type of service.
- The defendants were already aware of the case as they had been served with the initial summons and complaint by FedEx as well personally by a process server. This also indicated a good faith effort on the FTC’s part.
- The request by the FTC also included service of process by email, with Facebook service as a supplementary part of the service. Because service by email alone would comport with due process it was acceptable to include service through Facebook.
- There was considerable support that the Facebook accounts indentified by the FTC actually belonged to the defendants. Each of them had been created with email accounts connected previously to the individuals as well as the companies they operated.
It doesn’t seem as though the court is yet open to service through Facebook without service via email as part of the equation.
“To be sure, if the FTC were proposing to serve defendants only by means of Facebook, as opposed to using Facebook as a supplemental means of service, a substantial question would arise whether that service comports with due process”.
Yet the courts certainly consider electronic service of process as part of the future of process service:
“As the Ninth Circuit has stated, the due process reasonableness inquiry ‘unshackles the federal courts from anachronistic methods of service and permits them entry into the technological renaissance’.”
Read the ruling here.