Posts tagged ‘Freedom of speech’

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”.

April 13, 2011

British courts ‘gagging’ orders enable worldwide privacy protection

[James Carter, Privacy Law Contributor]

Telegraph: Whilst in the USA, blog culture has made the Internet into a dangerous and ‘wild west’ zone where via complaint boards such as Ripoff, Complaints Board and Autosubmit anyone can be dissed with impunity under the US Freedom of Expression laws, the UK‘s courts recognition of the individual’s right to privacy is a shining light in the misery of those whose privacy has been mercilessly invaded by predators and opportunists.

For those of you who don’t know, the svelte British ‘gagging order‘ is an order from a British court prohibiting the publication of anything about the person to whom it relates irrespective of whether the information published is true or false. Along these lines, the Telegraph reports that an actor (we cannot tell you who he/ she is!) was recently awarded a High Court injunction prohibiting a woman and someone else from saying anything to a newspaper about the actor. As such, from the date of the order, should anyone breach its terms, they can be imprisoned for contempt of court.

But, there is more. The British ‘super injunction’ can even stop newspapers or others mentioning that a ‘gagging order’ had been obtained. On the other hand, a ‘hyper-injunction’ prevents the dissemination of rumours, or their discussion concerning the person to which it has been awarded.

This wonderful British invention may prove to be one if its most valuable exports as celebrities and others wherever they may be (and especially if they are in the USA, where their privacy can be literally blogged to death) wishing to protect themselves from ‘reputation repair/ protection’ bandits on the Internet. That is because, sadly, the US constitution does not cater for the privacy of persons. Whereas in contract, the UK High court as a court of record may interpret the law as it sees fit and subject to common law rules. Again, the British constitution is unwritten which means that it can be liberally interpreted by  all and sundry.

Therefore, in practice (as is already happening) celebrity ‘A’ in the USA may apply to a British court for a ‘gagging’ order which could be made ‘world-wide’. Once it is achieved, anyone breaching the order, wherever they may be will be in ‘contempt of court’ and subject to the full force of the criminal justice system, which will include arrest and imprisonment.