Judge adds Twitter to injunction list
A UK judge has banned Twitter users from identifying a brain-damaged woman in one of the first attempts to prevent the website from revealing sensitive information.
The ruling follows the publication on Twitter of a list of celebrities alleged to have tried to cover up sexual indiscretions by obtaining court gag orders.
The injunction, dated yesterday, includes Twitter and Facebook in the list of media prohibited from disclosing the information.
It was issued in the Court of Protection in the case of a mother who wants to withdraw life support from her brain-damaged daughter. It prevents the identification of the woman and those caring for her.
“This is among the first injunctions specifically referring to Twitter and Facebook, but there have been others banning publication on the internet,” said Keith Arrowsmith, intellectual property and media partner at law firm Ralli Solicitors.
Lack of clarity
However, it is unclear how enforceable the injunction will be given the global nature of the internet and the scope for anonymity. Lawyers say plans to protect leaks of information protected by a British injunction on US-based Twitter show that court orders to gag the press are unsustainable.
MP John Hemming, who is compiling a report on the strictest kind of gag orders, called “superinjunctions”, said the fact that people can sign up for Twitter or Facebook without verifying identity meant injunctions relied on goodwill.
“They (injunctions) depend really on people’s willingness to follow the rules rather than any ability to force it on them,” Hemming said.