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Estonian Courts Want To Use Twitter To Contact Crime Suspects

No one can say the Estonian courts are technologically backwards: they’re blazing a new social media trail as they attempt to outline the ways in which they can contact criminals and suspects via Facebook and Twitter, serving subpoenas in 140-characters or less.

It might sound absurd at first, but the Estonian courts proposing this new way of harnessing social media actually have a pretty solid method for making “social subpoenas” secure.

According to Estonia’s justice ministry has sent a draft bill to parliament, seeking to get permission to use Twitter and Facebook to contact individuals who have broken the law.

The bill outlines exactly how someone will be contacted digitally by the courts: they will receive an email, Facebook message or tweet that includes a link to a secure website containing their court documents. Only after clicking the link and entering a number from an electronic identification card issued to all adult Estonians will the court documents be considered “served”.

Priit Talv, a justice ministry spokesperson explained that this new procedure would cut down on the amount of processing time the court has to deal with, which is largely due to the lengthy process of delivering documents to those involved in court cases:

“Around a third of all civil cases are constantly in phase of documents delivery. With the new legal steps planned to take force in January 2013, we want to expand the electronic means of courts to deliver these documents.”

Both the UK and the US have ruled in the past year that Twitter was an appropriate means of communication from within a courtroom, especially for journalists, but this is the first case we’ve heard of of a court actively trying to use Twitter to help with its administrative tasks.

What do you think about serving court documents via Twitter? Let us know in the comments below.

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