Is there a danger for Twitter Injunction breakers???

  • Something by Charis
  • Published on May 22nd, 2011 at 6:41p.m.

OK... So I'm going to try and write this article without writing anything that is going to get me sued/fined/imprisoned for contempt of court... Wish me luck...

Any journalism course worth its acreditation has a mandatory law module, and as a journalism undergrad I have to take a forced elective in media law, so I know a little bit about injunctions and a little bit about contempt of court.

However- most people who use Twitter may never have even heard of contempt of court, or what constitutes as contempt, when naming a sportsman, or another famous person, or someone who's slept with a high-class call girl...

They may see themselves only spreading gossip that everyone else is spreading, the internet is absolutely rife with rumours of who the injunctions are about.

Anyone who does use Twitter, and perhaps has studied some law, however, may know that it will be almost impossible for 'CTB's lawyers to gain any information from the company- as even though people in the UK can use the site it has no company base of any sort in the UK.

But, I mean, how on Earth are they supposed to find out who the thousands of users are who named certain persons online? How far are they expected to go, just the ones with the most followers? Anyone who hashtagged it? Even people who just re-tweeted?

The nature of the site means that information can spread like wildfire and censorship is almost impossible... so illegal gossip can spread just as easily.

This morning many people re-tweeted a twitpic photo of the front page of a Scottish newspaper, who are not subject to the injunction as they are under the jurisdiction of Scottish court, which pictured and named said athlete.

As it now stands legally, the Scottish newspaper is not allowed to be identified by English media! A newspaper not allowed to be named! Who ever heard of such as thing??!!

Our media are well and truly gagged.

But... from re-tweeting this picture are people disseminating illegal materials? Could they technically be hauled up in front of a judge? Strictly speaking the answer is yes.

It is too legally confusing for the average person to understand, and even tough ignorance is no defence, if the many thousands who have flouted injunctions in recent weeks were taken to court, I imagine a fair few of them would use this as their reason for their actions.

Luckily, I doubt that 'CTB's lawyers are willing to take court action against thousands and thousands of ordinary people. Perhaps, for now, the bulk of Tweeters will be safe.

But in the future there will no doubt be more concerted efforts and preventative measures to allow the gagging of the media, and the protection of individual's privacy, to continue.

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