Will the fact that injunctions are now specifically mentioning Twitter and Facebook by name make any difference whatsoever?
According to The Telegraph, the first injunction to name Twitter and Facebook as places where information relating to the case should be revealed has been issued by the Court of Protection. This isn’t a super-injunction, which is why its existence can be discussed, and it’s also not an injunction related to a misdemeanor by a celebrity, which is why there’s little chance of the ruling being broken.
This injunction is related to a mother who wants to withdraw life support from her daughter who has been kept alive since suffering brain damage in 2003. The ruling states that the woman’s identity cannot be published in “any newspaper, magazine, public computer network, Internet site, social network or media including Twitter or Facebook, sound or television broadcast or cable or satellite programme service.”
Just because Twitter, Facebook, other social networking sites, and the Internet as a whole are specifically mentioned in this injunction doesn’t mean people won’t still talk about this and other injunctions. It just means that should the authorities choose to do so, they could trace those involved and take legal action against them. That is at least if they’re based in the U.K., although even that doesn’t guarantee a successful prosecution.
Twitter isn’t registered in the U.K. and does not have a U.K. operation, so it’s as though it exists outside British jurisdiction. Furthermore, anyone resident in another country effectively gets a free pass to say what the hell they like, whether on the Web or otherwise. At least a couple of those who are alleged to have taken out super-injunctions have been named by the foreign press or websites.
This complicates matters considerably because the Internet has effectively torn down the borders between countries. The Chinese government spends a fortune on stopping its civilian population visiting websites it deems inappropriate, and even that huge effort isn’t entirely successful.
Unless countries such as the U.K. are also going to set up universal firewalls for all then the Internet will remain a muddy battleground between those seeking to hide the truth and those seeking to expose it. I can’t quite see how this quandary is going to be solved but the law appears to be failing in its attempts. We can, however, be assured that super-injunctions will now also mention Twitter and Facebook specifically.