Judge issues gag order for Twitter

LONDON Fri May 13, 2011 9:54am EDT

A Twitter page is displayed on a laptop computer in Los Angeles October 13, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

A Twitter page is displayed on a laptop computer in Los Angeles October 13, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

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LONDON (Reuters) - A British judge has banned Twitter users from identifying a brain-damaged woman in one of the first attempts to prevent the messaging website from revealing sensitive information.

The ruling follows the publication on Twitter on Sunday of a list of celebrities alleged to have tried to cover up sexual indiscretions by obtaining court gag orders.

The injunction, dated May 12 and seen by Reuters on Friday, 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 intellectual property and media partner Keith Arrowsmith at law firm Ralli Solicitors.

Lawyers say leaks of information protected by a British injunction on U.S.-based Twitter show that court orders to gag the press are unsustainable.

Bloggers can reveal secrets on Twitter anonymously, said member of parliament John Hemming, who is compiling a report on the strictest kind of gag orders called "superinjunctions".

"They (injunctions) depend really on people's willingness to follow the rules rather than any ability to force it on them," he told Reuters when asked about Twitter.

(Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova)

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Comments (5)
Good luck enforcing that one!

May 13, 2011 1:11pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
tails_it wrote:
the judge may be able to silence the brittish people, but he cannot silence the net as a whole, as a judicial branch that judge only has power in the nation which he holds the title of majistrate or judge, he does not hold power in the united states, we have the 1st ammendment right of free speech on or offline, 1st ammendment of the constitution states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” i.e. no power foreign or domestic shall squelch our freedom of speech

May 13, 2011 1:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Mike10613 wrote:
I can’t see how this can be enforced except on members of the press.

May 13, 2011 2:21pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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