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Can an International Subpoena Obtain Metadata from Google and Twitter?

Posted on October 29th, 2014

In Re Request for Subpoena by Ryanair Limited, Case No. 5:14-mc-80270-BLF-PSG(N.D.Cal. Oct. 9, 2014) is an application for an order to obtain discovery to third-party witnessses Google and Twitter regarding a lawsuit pending in the Dublin Circuit Court in Ireland. Applicant obtained a default judgment against the Defendant in the Dublin court, and sought electronically stored information (ESI) and metadata from the two US corporations for information about his whereabouts to enforce the judgment.

This is an application brought under 28 USC § 1782 for discovery in a foreign court proceeding. In reviewing the legal standard, the Court found:

  1. It had authority to issue the third-party subpoena as the statutory jurisdictional requirements have been met; both Google and Twitter were located in San Francisco and are in the Court’s district. Further, the underlying proceeding is a foreign tribunal and the Applicant is an interested person.
  2. The court reviewed its discretionary factors under § 1782:
    1. The information is not available to the Dublin Court, as Google and Twitter are not company residents in Ireland.
    2. The Dublin court would be receptive to the evidence, as it would like to enforce its judgment.
    3. The application is a good faith effort to secure relevant evidence beyond the jurisdiction of the Dublin Court.
    4. The request is not unduly burdensome or intrusive, as it is all electronically stored and it is not looking for the content of any email communications. It seeks the metadata of the communications in an attempt to pinpoint the whereabouts of the missing Defendant to enforce the Dublin Court’s Order.

The U.S. District Court granted the Application for Subpoena of the third-party witnesses Google and Twitter.

ILS – Plaintiff Electronic Discovery Experts

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