24 May 2011


What has come to be affectionately known as the 'Super Injunction' is currently a hot topic of debate. Following the recent leaks regarding a famous footballer and a not so famous reality TV star, the purpose and effectiveness of such injunctions has been called into question.

With instant access to information is it possible to ensure that the subject of the Super Injunction is never released. The latest 'scandal' has seen the name of the footballer, who we are not allowed to mention, plastered all over Twitter, a Scottish journalist and the Commons courtesy of our very own MP, John Hemming (relying on the principle of Parliamentary Privelege).

Whether privacy laws should even exist and the function of such an injunction is all very interesting but does it matter to those of us who are not in the public eye? I'm not so sure, firstly can the average person afford an injunction, costing thousands of pounds and secondly, is there anyone out there who would feel the need to spend that money making sure information does not fall into the public domain? Quite the opposite I would say, some would pay that kind of money to get their name INTO the public domain, with the advent of Big Brother, Facebook, MySpace, twitter and the like all aiming at getting average people (and more known folks obviously) into the public domain.

Apparently because the injunction does not relate to secrecy but to preventing harassment of the footballer by the press then it shall not be lifted - even after three attempts! "Lawyers for Giggs had previously obtained a High Court order asking Twitter to reveal details of users who had revealed his identity after thousands named him in recent days".(http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/may/23/injunction-remains-high-court-rules). So not only does the law relating to privacy and protection from harassment (as claimed by the court in the injunction case) but should ordinary users of Twitter breach the provisions of the injunctions then they will face legal action. The lawyers have already obtained user details of Twitterers (? not sure what you officially call Twitter users and 'Twits' seems slightly harsh).

Problems remain however with age old problem of identifying users on the internet for purposes other than serious criminal offences, where the amount of investigating required would at least be justifiable. Do people put their true name and address on their Twitter registration? Is there a degree of anonymity for the users themselves? Should they be entitled to be free from harassment from speculative legal actions such as the obtaining of the users details? Should a court judge be given the ability to grant the information being obtained? Should users be allowed a degree of anonymity?

Ultimately, and here is the big question - do laws relating to the injunction translate well to the average person with little to lose and notoriety to gain? Maybe the law needs revamped or maybe, just maybe, the courts and parliament alike need to realise that not everything can be controlled from legal documentation and a harsh hand at enforcing documents such as the 'Super Injunction'.

As always, comments welcome.

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