A couple of weeks ago I wrote on another blog about Twitter, with regards to privacy injunctions and a certain footballer’s alleged misdemeanors. Ryan Giggs was deliberately named on Twitter as the high-profile person who had employed a privacy injunction to keep his extra-marital affair with a Z-List celebrity on the quiet. This particular incident raised the question of legal precedent, given that the injunction was only enforceable within the UK, but Twitter is obviously a global medium. So the masses continue to use Twitter and the like to share information without any perceived fear of recrimination.
However, Dominic Grieve – UK Attourney General – has said that individuals could be prosecuted for contempt of court for publishing sensitive material. Speaking to BBC Radio 4, he added that individuals who used Twitter or other internet site to undermine the rule of law could face the consequences of their actions. This roughly translates to the court having powers to fine or even imprison people who deliberately break court rulings.
David Allen Green, a media lawyer and expert on social media, furthered the warning by saying “The law treats self-publication in the same way [as publication by the mainstream media]. It means that a whole lot of people are exposed to civil and criminal liability who wouldn’t have been ten years ago.”
To me, at least, this raises the question that if all are equally culpable in the eyes of the law when it comes to breaching an injunction, then should injunctions be freely available? If one person has the financial ability to put in place legal restrictions on what can be publicly said about them, yet a person of less means cannot, then where is the equality here? If both can be prosecuted on the same mandate, then why can’t a minimum wage worker be afforded the same legally enforceable privacy protection as a multi-millionaire footballer?