Privacy superinjunctions on Twitter

[Paul Jensen, LLB Courts and Law Contributor]

MailOnline reports that British newspapers are up in arms over the increasing prevalence of UK ‘superinjuctions’ and are delighted that it seems that Twitter has apparently flouted these privacy court orders by allowing one of its users to set up an account called ‘superinjunctions’ whereby the names of the British celebrities taking out the measures were named.

However, the media’s delight may well be short-lived, as today I searched Twitter and came up with the account and the list of names, but found that Twitter had moderated the list, so that the names were no longer available to be seen.

For those of you who don’t know this, ‘superinjunctions’ refer to privacy orders given by a UK court whereby it becomes a contempt of court (punishable by imprisonment and fine) for the specified private details about a person to be published. The injunctions can bind the whole world and generally cost around £120,000 to achieve in the UK.  However, in other jurisdictions, eg., Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Australia, the cost may be considerably less expensive, but just as effective.

Effectively, it is possible to get the injunctions in any jurisdiction where this is not prohibited by the country’s constitution, or similar laws. In particular,  courts of record (eg., High Court) in common law countries have an inherent right to grant these injunctions.  The USA, however, is an exception as the First Amendment of its constitution specifically prohibits the right to privacy of individuals. This glaring omission has created a raging monsters of ‘blogplainting’ whereby dissing can be done via multitude of complaint boards quickly and effectively upon anyone, by anyone no matter whether the complaints, or published materials are true or false.

The sad news for the British media is that it will be difficult for USA-based publishers, be they Internet based, or not, to circumvent the UK courts’ privacy orders as a result of the USA courts’ reciprocity of judgments recognition protocols which provide for USA courts to respect and enforce orders from any jurisdiction that has reciprocity of judgment recognition with the USA.  Hence Twitter’s quick action to ‘redact’ the list of published names.  Similarly, a few weeks ago, Wikipedia faced with a similar problem, removed the offending postings.

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