Twitter Paving The Way For Privacy Law Reform
Twitter Paving The Way For Privacy Law ReformMay 23 2011 - Social media - Farhad Divecha
Twitter is once again the source of breaking news in the UK, except this time the story revolves around protecting / invading the privacy of a local footballer.
The footballer in question, a Premier League player, has recently been in the news for his alleged involvement with former Miss Wales and Big Brother contestant, Imogen Thomas. The concerned player has brought an injunction against his name being published by the regular tabloid publications.
However, the story has been among the trending topics on the social networking site Twitter, where his name was revealed and discussed widely. This only means that even though the newspapers are being restrained from publishing his name with regards to the story, his involvement in it is common knowledge.
A Scottish newspaper, the Sunday Herald has taken the liberty of publishing his name. They have also displayed his photo with a black bar across his face and the word “Censored” written across.
While this could be seen as willful opposition to the injunction, they have explained in their editorial that it is “unsustainable” for newspapers to be prevented from publishing this hot piece of news while the individual’s name is being openly discussed on Twitter, and therefore known to everyone who has access to the Internet.
They have further said that “The issue is one of freedom of information and of a growing argument in favour of more restrictive privacy laws.”
The British prime Minister, David Cameron has expressed general agreement with these sentiments. He has said, “It’s not fair on the newspapers if all the social media can report this and the newspapers can’t, and so the law and the practice has got to catch up with how people consume media today.
Mr. Cameron has further indicated that it may be time to take a fresh look at this aspect of the law, and make some appropriate changes regarding privacy laws in keeping with the times.
So far, the attorney general’s office has not brought any charges against the newspaper or Twitter. However, the judges ruling on the case have continued to rebuff attempts by the newspapers to bring this case to trial, mainly due to the fact that overturning the rules would only serve to benefit the newspapers and not the general public and definitely not the individual whose privacy is being encroached upon.
On the other hand, even if the courts choose to sue Twitter for the breach of the injunction the question being asked by many is whether it is possible for the British courts to sue Twitter which is an American company and has no culpability in the U.K. courts.