Twitter and other social media sites legally bound to obey UK superinjunctions

[Jenny Lang, Law & Courts Contributor]

Regarding the widespread confusion about the enforceability of UK ‘superinjunctions’, iTOD contributor, Jenny Lang, seeks to bring light on the subject.

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, or for it to be revealed that they had sought the injunctions.

Contrary to confusing information abounding about the worldwide enforceability of the injunctions, the reality is that in fact, they can bind the whole world. They are not cheap – in the UK, they cost around £120,000 to achieve.  However, in other jurisdictions, eg., Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Australia, the cost may be considerably less expensive, but just as effective as it is possible to get the injunctions in any jurisdiction where this is not prohibited by the awarding 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.

What this means that worldwide publishers, be they Internet based, or not, will not be able to ignore the injunctions as most countries, like the USA, reciprocate judgment recognitions and enforcements under reciprocity protocols. As such for an Internet hosting site, or search engine to ignore a court order would be perilous. That is why Twitter was bound to ‘redact’ the list of published names of the ‘superinjuncted’ recently and Wikipedia in a similar situation recently, had done the same.

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