Wednesday 25 May 2011

Giggsgate: privacy law is on the cards after legal fiasco –

Giggsgate: privacy law is on the cards after legal fiasco –

 Bains Cohen LLP, said people should be given stronger powers to challenge inaccurate or defamatory stories before publication, as an alternative to super-injunctions.

However, they also warned that celebrities who cheat on their wives, husbands or partners, may have to accept the blame for hurting them if their antics later appear in the press.

"The families of, let’s say a footballer, who is guilty of indiscretions might have to bear the consequences of this change in the same way that families of criminals have to live with the consequences of an unlawful act by one of their members.

“And the family member who committed the indiscretion will have to take some responsibility for his actions, including the effect of his actions on members of his family.”

“Any change in the law of privacy should cement this principle but should also give an opportunity to aggrieved parties to challenge any publication in advance in the event that the information which is about to be printed is incorrect or defamatory."
Read full article in the Scotsman

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Former Sun editor tight-lipped in super-injunction case - Surrey Herald

Former Sun editor tight-lipped in super-injunction case - Surrey Herald
NATIONAL newspaper columist and Weybridge resident Kelvin MacKenzie says he will not reveal his emails or text messages to a defence lawyer in a super-injunction case.

The former Sun editor got dragged into the super-injunction case between the affair of a footballer, who cannot be named, and reality television star Imogen Thomas, after revealing on BBC Radio 4's Today show he received emails and texts from readers asking to tell them the names of celebrities using injunctions to protect their privacy.

The show was aired last month as the columnist took part in a debate whether or not injunctions can carry on.

Kelvin MacKenzie

However, during a public part of a hearing on Monday, May 16, at the Royal Court of Justice the lawyer for the footballer, Hugh Tomlinson QC, made an application to search the emails and text messages sent by Kelvin.

Kelvin, who is in favour of free speech, told the Herald and News, he had no intention of sending them.

He said: "The truth of the situation is that it's gossip. We are all allowed to gossip. It is not against the law."

He also urged the jury to type in the name of the footballer and the word 'super injunction' into Internet search site Google to see how the information is all ready available to the public.

He added: "The legal system is too old. Technology is making a fool out of these judgements."

On air he had said: "People do text me by the way and say, who is it? I always reply who it is despite the fact I've been warned by judges and lawyers."

He went on to say that online site Wikipedia can be changed by people in America, where the injunction does not count.

Kelvin is not party to the case but if the application is granted he could be found to be in contempt of court.

The judge reserved judgement on the application and said he would announce his decision at a later date.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Twitter and Facebook: Injunction issued banning publication of information on social networking sites -

Twitter and Facebook: Injunction issued banning publication of information on social networking sites - "A High Court judge has issued an injunction which bans publication of information on Twitter and Facebook.

The order, made by Mr Justice Baker in the Court of Protection - linked to the Family Division of the High Court - is thought to be the first to place a specific ban on publishing information on any 'social network or media including Twitter or Facebook', as well as in other media.

The normal orders issued by the Family Division judges to prevent identification of children and others involved in cases simply ban publication of specified information in 'any newspaper, magazine, public computer network, internet website, sound or television broadcast or cable or satellite programme'.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Friday 13 May 2011

Blogger publishes super injunction order in full- The Inquirer

Blogger publishes super injunction order in full- The Inquirer

Blogger publishes super injunction order in full
Court then issues an injunction against him
By Lawrence Latif
Fri May 13 2011, 17:01 FREEDOM OF INFORMATION was the reason given by a blogger who published the full text of a gagging order.

As celebrities clamour to cover their indiscretions by asking judges to issue injunctions that suppress information, one blogger has gone a step further and revealed, in full, a gagging order. The super injunction was granted to a claimant, referred to as ZAM, to prevent details of his (mis)behaviour from becoming public.

Apparently Mr Justice Tugendhat granted the injunction because he felt that the allegations were "both extremely serious and defamatory" and their publication would "cause damage to the claimant which could not be compensated by damages", according to The Associated Press. To add a further bit of spice, the judge believed there was a chance that it was an attempt at blackmailing the claimant.

The blogger, who ironically now can not be named for legal reasons, said the order was "an affront to free speech". He questioned why, if as the judge thought there was a case of blackmail, the police had yet to be called. The blogger said, "I don't agree with the idea that someone going into court should try to silence us in this way." Well you certainly can't fault his logic and he even admitted that he wasn't worried that ZAM's lawyers might get heavy, as he doesn't have cash to pay any fines.

This is the latest case of internet users trying to get around so-called super injunctions that block the media from reporting news. These injunctions have been widely criticised for not only limiting the freedom of the press but also for bringing in a privacy law to do so on the sly.

The blogger is thought to be the first person who could be personally identified to release full details of a super injunction, and this is yet another very visible protest against silencing the public and the press. The question is whether judges will take into account the public's outcry against gagging orders or carry on with creation of a class of privacy law for the privileged few.

Read more:
The Inquirer - Computer hardware news and downloads. Visit the download store today.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Injunction tweeter faces jail -  MSN News - MSN UK

Injunction tweeter faces jail - MSN News - MSN UK

The Twitter user who published details of super-injunctions has rendered the orders "pointless" but will pay the penalty by going to jail, Media lawyer Mark Stephens has told MSN.
By revealing details of celebrities and sports personalities said to have gagged the press, some of which are believed to have been erroneous, the anonymous poster is in contempt of court.

The case is deemed so serious that a judge is certain to hand out the toughest penalty, Stephens said.

The lawyer said in an interview: "I think that super-injunctions are pretty pointless now. People have been named on the internet... In those circumstances, we are in the territory of Spy-Catcher [a 1980s case when the courts dropped a gagging order after secret information became widely published], there is no secrecy left and the courts are going to have to withdraw these injunctions."

Stephens warned that hiding behind a social media website will not protect people and that the law will seek out the individual responsible, rather than taking on Twitter or Facebook directly.

He added: "The person who has broken the injunction, the person who has put the information on the site stands in jeopardy of going to jail. I think the person who has done it on this occasion with the determined intent of breaking several super-injunctions is going to get a knock on the door from lawyers very soon and he will be well advised to pack his toothbrush because he is going to go straight from the Royal Courts of Justice, straight to Pentonville Jail.

"I think somebody will go to prison. This is down to somebody who is the beneficiary of a super-injunction, who has had it breached, to have their lawyers go off to one of the service providers, like MSN or Twitter, and asking them for details about the customer who is using that information.

"Their electronic fingerprints will be indelibly marked all over the files and as a result of that we will be able, in due course, to identify who the miscreant is and at that point they will be hauled up before the court and I think they can expect to go directly to jail and do not pass go."

The debate about super-injunctions - orders that ban the media not only from divulging details but even revealing that the restriction has been imposed - has prompted an intervention from the Prime Minister who said he is "uneasy" at the way in which the judges are in effect by-passing Parliament to introducing a privacy law.

However, Stephens told MSN that the UK's privacy rules cannot stand up to technological advancements and in particular to social media websites.

He said: "There has been a race for some time between the judiciary and technology and I think what this has demonstrated beyond any debate is that the judiciary has come comprehensively second; technology will always outwit the judiciary and that is really what the judges are struggling with. They are trying to keep up with technology but they are also hobbled because judges can only do what they can within their own country."

Stephens said that despite his support for free speech - Julian Assange is his most high-profile client- he will not condone civil disobedience, which sees people wilfully breaking court orders.

He told MSN: "As a lawyer I believe in the rule of law. Personally I don't believe that super-injunctions are a good thing; I think they are inappropriate for the British legal system. But, for good or ill, we have and we have to play by the rules.

"If you don't think a particular super-injunction should have been granted, then you go to court and you ask for it to be revoked. You either make your arguments and you persuade the judge, or you don't. I don't think there is a place for civil disobedience of this scale."

Super Injunctions and Internet Democracy

Super Injunctions are normally won on grounds of privacy and human rights. They are particularly difficult to digest because our embedded sense of justice, which accepts judicial restriction on our freedom of speech whenever the truthfulness of the intended publication is questionable, finds it difficult to logically accept similar restrictions on our freedom of speech when the intended publication is likely to contain truthful information.

 We have been brought up to believe that telling lies is wrong, but now it appears the creators of the super injunction are telling us that telling the truth is wrong too.
  We have been brought up to believe that telling lies is wrong, but now it appears the creators of the super injunction are telling us that telling the truth is wrong too. At any other time, this unhealthy mixture of moral messages could have been seen as a massive blow to our democratic system as well as to our personal and social values. However, the on-going democratisation of our world through the internet, which finds its underlying philosophy in the algorithms of the Google search engine, which basically says – ‘let the community decide what is useful, important or even truthful’, has already started to repair any damage to our moral values by insisting that truthful information should be published , if not by a newspaper then by regular Twitter users, if not in the UK, then outside the jurisdiction or the enforcement power of the local Courts.

The democratic nature of the internet has made enforcement of worldwide super injunctions impossible and Parliament needs to act fast to close the gap between what the public accepts as morally wrong (ie telling false stories) and the heavy penalties which the judicial system is willing to impose on those who are responsible for the publication of true stories.

In the rapidly evolving world of the internet, new laws have unintended and unforeseeable consequences which means that judicial attempts to protect one’s privacy are resulting in the forced exposure of the lives of innocent parties. Because Parliament has got the resources to properly assess and develop new law, in the circumstances perhaps it is best to ensure that in future, the law is developed more through Parliament and less through the Courts.

In the meantime, for the simple reason that publication of material on the internet could be done from the most remote parts of the world, and by people who might care very little about what our judges think, super injunctions will suffer death by a mob and sooner or later, either the courts will simply stop granting them or celebrities will realise that in the fast moving internet world, these super injunctions will bring them more harm than good.
Bains Cohen