Archive for ‘Superinjunctions’

May 29, 2011

Twitter forced by California court to hand over personal details and tweets of politician accused of libel by British group

[Jonas Surrey, Legal Affairs Contributor]

 

MailOnline: The social networking site, Twitter, which has more than 175 million users, has been forced by a California court to give up the personal information tweets of a British politician, Ahmed Khan, after a British local authority started an international court case complaining of libel perpetrated by the politician.  The judgment by the California court has started off a huge row in the USA concerning privacy and freedom of speech.

The local authority, South Tyneside Council, is reported to have spent more than £100,000 on the case which intends to bring to justice the author of a blog who goes by the name of Mr. Monkey, which is believed to be the blog of Mr. Khan.

Mr. Khan has refuted the allegations and is reported to be angry with Twitter for having disclosed his details. MailOnline reports him as saying: “This is Orwellian. It is like something out of 1984..if  a council can take this kind of action against one of its own councillors simply because they don’t like what I say, what hope is there for freedom of speech or privacy…I was never even told they were taking this case to court in California. The first I heard was when Twitter contacted me…I had just 14 days to defend the case and I was expected to fly 6,000 miles to hire my own lawyer – all at my expense”.

May 25, 2011

G8 Nations warned by powerful action groups – no Internet censorship, or else

[Kuzu Ahmed, Internet Freedom Contributor]

Mail.com: Large Internet information services companies, digital players and Internet activists are warning G8 countries meeting in Paris this week, that if politicians continue to attempt to limit internet access and censor information sharing on the Internet, those restrictions will become increasingly irrelevant as they will be deliberately circumvented.

Recent times have seen increasing resistance from the large Internet information services companies like Google and Twitter as well as Internet activists who together have poured cold water on politicians’ censorships on the Internet, which they claim are in contravention of the human right of freedom of expression.

The message was discussed among the leaders of the Group of Eight  – eight of the world’s most influential countries – which began a meeting in France on Thursday to discuss the impact of the Arab uprising which seem to have been enabled by the Internet.

According to Jean-Francois Julliard of Reporters Without Borders “G-8 governments should say very clearly for once that Internet access is a fundamental human right.”  He says that more than 60 countries have Internet restrictions in activity and many are following suit.

Additionally,  Tony Wang, the general manager of the social networking site Twitter, said that Internet censorship is self-defeating and commented that:  “the response to bad speech should be more speech.”

Read more…

May 25, 2011

Twitter cracks down on users breaking UK privacy injunctions

[Zana Blanke, Privacy Law Contributor]
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BBC News:  The social networking site, Twitter which has around 175 million registered users worldwide, has issued a stern warning to its users that if they break privacy injunctions with their Tweets, they will be on their own before the UK courts. According to Twitter’s new European boss, Tony Wang, Twitter users who breach UK privacy injunctions via their tweets would not be protected by Twitter.
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He confirmed that where authorities required information relating to the unlawful postings, Twitter would co-operate fully with them. Currently, Twitter is under pressure by privacy lawyers to reveal the identities of those users who deliberately breached the privacy orders by their tweets.
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Mr. Wang said: “Platforms have a responsibility, not to defend that user but to protect that user’s right to defend him or herself  …..[users can] exercise their own legal rights under their own jurisdiction, whether that is a motion to quash the order or to oppose it or do a number of other things to defend themselves.”
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May 20, 2011

UK superinjunction judges declare war on Twitter and Internet bloggers

[Tamsin Ledbetter, Privacy Law Contributor]

Guardian.co.uk:  Britain’s Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge‘s opinion is that your Tweets, social media and Internet postings can get on the wrong side of the law if they are meant to defy privacy injunctions and to ‘peddle lies’.  He is angry that it seems that modern technology is totally out of control and is advocating a strict crackdown on the social media bandits who are using the Internet and social media sites, such as Twitter, to make people’s lives miserable and to defy the due process of law.

However, the learned judge agreed with a recent Judicial committee report on privacy orders which said that they should be used only in ‘very limited circumstances’ and for short periods of time only (hmmmnnn…do we smell a climb-down here??).  But he was most critical of the practice whereby many blogs, Twitter and similar sites are being used to bypass restrictions placed on traditional newspapers and TV stations for breaking the terms of the court orders.

In respect to recent attempts to circumvent the privacy orders by raising them in parliament under the protection of ‘parliamentary privilege’, Lord Judge said that if the matters were raised in parliament with the intention to contravene the injunctions, then they would be likely to be in contempt of court as they would lose the protection of ‘good faith and absence of malice’ which are required for the protections to kick in.
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Analysts are saying that if  British judges do ‘climb down’ on privacy orders and make them less accessible to those who want them, then they will have unwittingly given birth to the concept and practice of ‘privacy injunctions shopping’ whereby other countries, like Dominica, Grenada and some of the Baltic states may grant such orders to bring in much needed income into the coffers of their cash-starved economies.

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May 9, 2011

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.