Facebook and Twitter gagged by new injunction

An ‘door-stepping order’ banning the media from contacting 65 people in a right-to-life case was lifted yesterday – but a new order was imposed banning the publication of information on Facebook and Twitter.

The ‘door-stepping’ order, which was imposed last month, was successfully challenged by The Times.

In a report today (paywall), the newspaper writes that Mr Justice Baker lifted the injunction and approved a new order relating only to the family.

The court order relates to a case in which a ‘mother wants permission for artificial nutrition and hydration to be withdrawn from her ‘minimally conscious’ daughter”.

Today’s Times report said

“The ruling is a boost to the media as fresh privacy injunctions come thick and fast, despite the fiasco this week in which an anonymous user of Twitter posted names of celebrities allegedly hiding their personal affairs behind court orders.

“Mr Justice Baker emphasised that the Court of Protection was concerned ‘with the weak and vulnerable, not the rich and famous’.

“But judges dealing with the latter had to balance the ‘same human rights as usually arise in the so-called superinjunction cases in the Queen’s Bench Division, in which celebrities and others seek to restrain publication concerning their private lives’.”

Times legal head Pia Sarma is quoted as saying

‘This is a landmark judgment recognising that reporting the human story is given sharper focus if restrictions on the media are kept to a minimum. The judge made clear that detail and care must be taken when weighing privacy with freedom of expression. This should set goalposts for all injunctions.”

The order banning the publication of details on Facebook and Twitter is believed to be the first order of its kind. But as the Daily Mail points out, one problem for the courts if they do try to impose an order is the fact that neither site is registered in the UK and so are outside British jurisdiction.

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