UK Court Expands 'Super Injunction' Censorship Rules To Include Twitter & Facebook

from the don't-speak dept

There’s been a lot of attention paid recently to the process of super injunctions being issued in the UK, which block newspapers from reporting on certain people or issues (quite frequently, they’re used to get stories of famous people having affairs blocked from publication). This, of course, seems antithetical to the concept of free speech. All of that attention, not surprisingly, has resulted in a fair amount of backlash from people who don’t like being censored. And, thanks to communication tools like Twitter, people are able to make themselves heard. Not surprisingly, folks on Twitter are mocking the super injunctions and freely speaking about those who allegedly are taking out these super injunctions.

In response, it appears that the next strategy is for judges to include sites like Twitter and Facebook in the injunction itself:

The new injunction restricts the publishing of the woman?s identity in ?any newspaper, magazine, public computer network, internet site, social network or media including Twitter or Facebook, sound or television broadcast or cable or satellite programme service?

But how do they enforce that? Especially if the people are not in the UK. It’s difficult to see how the UK can seriously hope to just stop people from talking about an individual, just because they had enough cash around to take out such a super injunction.

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Comments on “UK Court Expands 'Super Injunction' Censorship Rules To Include Twitter & Facebook”

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32 Comments
Dave W (profile) says:

I do wish that you wouldn’t use the term “UK” as in “It’s difficult to see how the UK can seriously hope to just stop people from talking about an individual”.

Sorry its a minor niggle as it seems to suggest that the people and government agree with the situation. They don’t and the Prime Minister has already stated that this is effectively crisis containment PR for the rich (and he should know) with EU legal backing….

Our usual enterprising press have however found ways of letting all and sundry know who is responsible (if you care that is) and i think that the ineffectiveness of the super-injunctions will eventually slow their use.

Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Re:

Sorry its a minor niggle as it seems to suggest that the people and government agree with the situation.

Well, that may be true, but until the government does away with this form of censorship, they are implicitly approving of the superinjunctions.

“We may not like them, but what can we do about them?” appears to be the government’s message in this situation.

ethorad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

In context I read the term “the UK” as meaning “the UK’s government” or “the UK as a political entity”. For example we talk about “the US passes the PATRIOT ACT” or “France claims HADOPI is working” referring to branches of government rather than suggesting PATRIOT was passed by referendum or there was a widespread poll on HADOPI.

Although as a UK citizen anything which can be done to distance myself from dumb decisions by our government/courts/etc I guess I should welcome!

Richard (profile) says:

Not really a superinjunction

This isn’t a superinjunction – because the existence of the injunction itself is not being censored.

Also this one isn’t a celebrity with bags of cash buying privacy to conceal their moral shortcomings. This is an ordinary person coping with personal tragedy and trying to avoid the attentions of the UK press.

Having said that I agree that it is difficult to see how this can be enforced – although in this case I would hope that no-one will particularly want to break it.

Richard (profile) says:

From comment on the linked article

The linked article has a lovely comment on it from Elliot Ross.

“The way injunctions seem to work in the offline world is that everyone in the press knows what’s going on, and they know not to talk about it. Apply that model to social media, and it means everyone in the world knowing but somehow still not able to talk about it.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: From comment on the linked article

Yeah, this is a really odd thing to enforce logistically.

In the print days, there were at least a finite number of national/local newspapers, magazines, and tabloids. There are a lot of them, but at least it’s known how many there are and it is manageable.

In the online world, there are about a billion potential “news sources” that could talk about it. How do you censor them all effectively and do so without all of them knowing your secret?

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Simples

Any shit, and the UK will order the shutdown of the entire Internet.

What, you think they can?t do that? You mean you didn?t realize it was Prince Philip pulling the strings behind the scenes all along? Why do you think the US political system doesn?t make any sense? Didn?t you know those were British troops disguised as Americans throwing all that tea overboard? That they pretended to let you win the War of Independence? MUAHAHAHAHA!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

But how do they enforce that? Especially if the people are not in the UK. It’s difficult to see how the UK can seriously hope to just stop people from talking about an individual, just because they had enough cash around to take out such a super injunction.

Simplest thing in the world! All they have to do is write a law saying it has to happen, and then surely the laws of physics will rearrange themselves accordingly to avoid a messy lawsuit.

Rewriting reality for the better is a very straightforward project. First, eliminate peoples’ desire to gossip about celebrities. Next, change the solar system so there aren’t any more time zones, leap years, or daylight savings times. Then, for the grand finale, redefine the molecular composition of butter so that it never gets crumbs in it! Huzzah!

(…OK, I’ve stayed up way too late. I’m going to bed now…)

Anonymous Coward says:

Dont look at me

I’m from the UK and I can assure you, I hang my head in shame.

Britain has some pretty insane people in it, I suppose the law of averages states we will get bat-shit crazies in charge now and again.
Still, you guys have Sarah Palin and the Tea Party so I guess that evens out the loonies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Culture Gap

What we have here is a very big culture gap.

You can read the US Declaration of Independence to see what Americans thought about British over reach 300 years ago.

You caqn also read what the Chinese think of US and UK over reach here:
http://www.newsweek.com/2011/05/15/dr-k-s-rx-for-china.html

Do not let the title fool you brcause culture over reach is exactly what the issue is.

Dave W (profile) says:

Re: Re:

True – but they are unarmed and generally polite.

Its a VERY British police state, where there are no written rules but a complex social understanding that you sacrifice freedom to know what the hell is really going on for the promise of a health service and a state pension.

Of course, the pension will not be enough for you in your old age but still won’t finish you off before the health service does.

My mother would hit me if she read that last sentence.

Beta (profile) says:

IAN,IRN,AL

As a mathematician I find legal language baffling. Wouldn’t “public computer network” cover Twitter and Facebook? If not, then what does it cover? If it’s not clear what that phrase covers, do they really want to have it in there? Have they thought about email and mailing lists? Telephone conversations? Newsletters?

It seems to me that what they have in mind is one-to-many communication, in which the speaker doesn’t know who’s listening. Why can’t they say something like that, instead of cobbling together a sloppy list of examples?

Alan Fleming (user link) says:

Not in this case they didn't

Firstly, superinjunctions prevent reporting of the injunction itself. Since this one was reported, it’s an ordinary injunction.

Secondly, so over-arching “rule” was created here. This was a single ruling by a single judge in a single case. No effect on any other case.

Thirdly, most reporting injunctions read along the lines of “publication is prohibited in the news media, or on the internet” – all that was added this time was “, including facebook or twitter.”

Taking this at its highest, this was an example added to a very standard injunction. Nothing new or even that interesting.

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