Feeds

back to article Attorney General threatens Twitter injunction-busters

The government's chief legal adviser has warned that people who breach privacy injunctions by publishing details on micro-blogging site Twitter and other websites could be prosecuted for contempt of court. Attorney General Dominic Grieve told the BBC's Radio 4 programme, Law in Action, that he would consider taking direct action …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
FAIL

So tell me about the injunction then... :)

How can one be in contempt of an injunction that one is unaware of? Perhaps the attorney general should turn his mind to answering that question, before threatening Twitter users for breaking super-injunctions they know nothing about.

10
0
Alert

Re: So tell me about the injunction then... :)

"How can one be in contempt of an injunction that one is unaware of?"

This is how the modern corporate state works, apparently: rulings you can break unknowingly with criminal law consequences, stuff like patents you can infringe unknowingly with potential criminal law consequences (especially if the "intellectual property" lobbyists get their way).

Not knowing is not an excuse for our overlords, even if it's not realistic to expect people to find out what they can't do. Didn't bother to visit Alpha Centauri? It's your own fault.

Beware of the leopard, everyone.

6
0
Anonymous Coward

As I said the other day...

If you tweet your information with a 'superinjunction' tag or post it as a comment to an article about superinjunctions, a court is likely to infer that you were aware of the injunction, even if indirectly.

2
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Not knowing IS an excuse for our overlords

As in "We did not know that they did not have weapons on mass destruction", "We did not know that the Jews were being gassed", "We did not know that Banking Deregulation would cause a crisis", "We did not know that the NOTW was bugging your phones" etc etc etc.

2
1
Anonymous Coward

Red rag to a bull

Right...

VPN? Check

Proxy? Check

Tor? Check

Throw away email account? Check

Throw away twitter account? Check

Right so which injunctions that were not supposed to know about, do we know about that are likely to anger the law?

4
0
Silver badge

or even...

I live in Scotland....check.

7
0
Pint

No

Living in Scotland is no protection if you're posting on Twitter.

Note the Sunday Herald published the photo on their front page of the paper, but not on their website. Because the website is viewable in England. And therefore subject to english law.

So no moving to Scotland to avoid jail.

0
3
Pint

Huh?

Thumbs down for pointing out how not to get arrested? Odd how some of you lot think ... ;)

0
0
Anonymous Coward

well

"in the public interest," "to maintain the rule of law, " in the case of secret injunctions I think it's impossible to do both.

IN BS cases like that bird doing lots of giggs it's all bollocks and if she was trying to blackmail him it should have been a criminal matter, but since he went for an injunction you have to wonder about his honesty. They're just rubbish, if you're in the public eye and you're sleeping around you get what you deserve, if you're being blackmailed you tell the police.

In important cases like the company trying to cover up the fact that it was dumping toxic waste illegally, the injunctions are criminal.

2
0

Just Curious

I'm not from the UK and don't really know anything about the legal system, but doesn't one have to be in court or under court order to be charged with contempt?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Hmm...

As I understand it, if you break a UK court order (in the UK) you are in contempt. You don't actually have to be in a court.

0
0
Bronze badge

@AC

As already mentioned, you actually need to be in England or Wales to be in contempt of an English Court, and conversely you generally need to be in Scotland to be in contempt of a Scottish Court. Since Twitter is not in the UK at all, Scottish twitterers are essentially okay.

0
0
Thumb Down

I really don't undertand

How someone could be prosecuted for saying something they arent supposed to know.

If they say 'I heard it was X that did Y with Z' and it just happens that X did in fact do Y with Z, the person who said that isn't supposed to know, so therefore isnt breaking any laws?

How can you be in contempt of court for gossiping? You don't know any of the facts to be in contempt.

Surely the only person who could be prosecuted would be the person(s) that let the info intp the public domain - which I doubt they will find.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

If twittering followed limited reporting

eg the "Daily Moon" or the "Sunday Telex" print something to the extent that a famous tiddlywinks player is rumoured to have an injunction out against a former friend.

a twitterer than goes "the rags all know it's xxxxx" and "he wanted his car back but she wouldn't"

then it would look a lot like he knew what was going on.

0
0
Thumb Down

Secret laws

Surely you have to be served with an injunction before you can be bound by it. Only then will you know what it is you are not allowed to do.

Newspapers are informed by the courts when an injunction is issued, so they know what they cannot say. If twitterers are similarly bound, then the injunction should be issued to all on twitter - perhaps via a twitter acount.

5
0
Gold badge
Thumb Up

New twitter banner

There will be a new banner for people in England...

You are NOT allowed to tweet about the following:

1) Imogen Thomas has been having lots of giggs.

2) Tony Blair failed an IQ test.

3) Police shoot-to-kill permission to rid London of photographers.

4)...

Out of curiosity did I get the name right for (1)? I don't know or care about it, so I just typed "Ryan Giggs" into Google, and it automatically filled in the rest in front of my eyes, without even having to press enter :)

0
0
Facepalm

Alternatively...

Why not just dispose of this unenforceable, Kafkaesque, and useless piece of legislation, instead of trying to find ways to enforce it?

You might as well try to enforce not eating mince pies on Christmas Day.

0
0
Pint

Out of interest

What about it makes you think of Kafka?

1
0
Thumb Up

@Out of interest

A good question...

I was thinking of the contrast between the "flawless" bureaucracy in "The Castle", and the real world.

Probably "Orwellian" would have been a better adjective.

0
0
Pint

Ah

I've only read Metamorphosis. Was trying to figure out how gossiping abut Giggsy turned you into a giant insect. Don't want to take any chances.

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Headmaster

As Dicken's wrote....

“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble,… “the law is a ass—a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.”

1
0
Thumb Up

Also...

"People who enjoy eating sausage and obey the law should not watch either being made" - Otto von Bismarck

1
0
Silver badge
Headmaster

For the sake of accuracy:

Je weniger die Leute darüber wissen, wie Würste und Gesetze gemacht werden, desto besser schlafen sie nachts. (The less that people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they sleep at night.) - Prince Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (1815-1898)

Furthermore:

One should never forbid what one lacks the power to prevent. - Napoleon Bonaparte

1
0

mmm... he has a point - to a point

I think his point is that the recent Giggs case was blown on Twitter by someone who *knew* of the superinjunction - in which case there's a clearer case of contempt of court. He does still show a remarkable lack of understanding of either Twitter OR human nature, though, and little to no interest in whether Twitter is now crossing the divide between written media and conversation with friends, which would also make it kinda tricky.

Just saying, like

2
0
Silver badge

"It is not something, however, I particularly want to do."

Possibly because they don’t have a big enough court for all 75,000 people to appear in.

1
0
Thumb Up

Or possibly...

... because the CPS would (if they show any sort of consistency in their decisions whatsoever - so don't rely on that!) not deem the case to be in the public interest to prosecute, making the AG look like the biggest, most useless twat this side of the other big, useless twat who's been shagging his brother's missus....

1
0
Anonymous Coward

But they don't get a say

(According to the CPS themselves)

"Proceedings brought under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 are in practice initiated by the Attorney General, and the CPS may be involved in preparing papers on his or her behalf."

0
0
Facepalm

Re: But they don't get a say

I did suspect after I posted that may be the case...

0
0
Facepalm

No s*** Sherlock!

The attorny general is talking about 'privacy injunctions' not 'super injunctions'. The former was set up to anonymise victims during the proceeding of a court case, the latter is more of an injunction on an injunction stopping anyone knowing about it, which is then sent to a whole load of media and lawyers just in case...

The arguments are all about people abusing this system, like Giggs or [insert name of bad person/company here]. MPs are using Parliamentary priviledge to out them as have people through twitter. This is a current political debate raging around about how open the system is to abuse etc.

What the attorny general is saying, is that if someone breaches a privacy injunction, through any means including twitter, and say for example gives out the name of a rape victim, he will aim to prosecute that person. They will have committed a criminal offence so it is a fair position in my view. If they do the same for cases like Giggs, those injunctions were taken out by an individual relating to a civil (not criminal case) and so that person (or their legal team) would aim to prosecute the offending person. This is a different situation and not really under the remit of the attorny general as he cares more about criminal proceedings rather than civil.

2
0
g e
Silver badge
Big Brother

Do you think

David Cameron has been shagging Hazel Blears?

Gosh. If that turns out to be true and there's a soopah poopah injunction I'm not allowed to know exists I could be in hot water!

Thank god our government keeps us from knowing what we need to know to avoid talking about what we're not allowed to talk about.

Giggs, if you're reading this, remember a super injunction doesn't make you NOT a twat, k?

1
1
Bronze badge

No you won't

You can't break a super-injunction if you don't know about it, newspapers etc. get served with super-injunctions that tell them what they can't report on.

This is why one journalist in particular was in trouble for tweeting comments relating to another super-injunction because he, unlike most twitter users, had actual knowledge of the super-injunction and its terms and conditions.

If you do a bit of googling it's possible to read a number of super-injunctions on line which all helpfully explain that once you know that the contents of the document are subject to a super-injunction you can't mention them to anyone else.

This rather perversely means the best thing for the attorney general to do would be to make sure all twitter users are served with super-injunctions as then everyone would know what they aren't allowed to tell everyone.

0
0

"It is not something, however, I particularly want to do."

Well don't then.

1
0
Big Brother

@Attorney General threatens

@"It is not something, however, I particularly want to do."

Like hell its not. He would bring it in, in a heart beat if he thought he could. The Attorney General is the main legal advisor to the government. Someone doesn't get that powerful unless they want the power to control people. He hesitates because he fears he won't have enough public support, so instead he puts out this threat to test the water (so to speak) to see what kind of public reaction it'll get.

The whole principle of the super injunction is fundamentally wrong. Ok we need to protect legal cases whilst they are going though the courts, hence injunctions are required to protect what is said in cases, until the case has been decided. But the principle of gagging everyone from even knowing an injunction is in place is fundamentally wrong. Its a police state level of state control taken way to far, to censor everyone from ever knowing the case exists and that power is being increasingly abused by the rich and powerful to prevent what they know is their scandalous behaviour from being exposed.

@"I will take action if I think that my intervention is necessary in the public interest, to maintain the rule of law, proportionate and will achieve an end of upholding the rule of law."

... And more militant members of the public will take action to hold the rule of law to account (as it should be), by exposing super injunctions that the public feels should be exposed and are therefore in the public's interest. Try to silence and punish them all you like Attorney General, because all that will achieve is increasing public anger and determination against the growing arrogance of the increasingly draconian old school state attitudes of finding ever more ways punish the public into silence.

By the way government, if you haven't already noticed, you would do well to see that all around the world people are getting increasingly angry at their relentlessly arrogant governments (and their rich and powerful puppeteers) who are finding ever more ways to punish and put down the people and people have had enough and now more militant members of the public are showing they are starting to push back. After all, seventy five thousand people intentionally broke that super injunction, so they are sending you a message. People will and are standing up to the arrogant governments and they have had enough. :(

4
2
Silver badge

Twaddle

What utter twaddle.

1
2
WTF?

@Gordon (age?) 10

Thank you for you deeply considered and thoughtfully well thought out answer which addresses not one point I make, but simply retorts to name calling in the way a naive kid would behave. Do the world a favour and wake up.

3
0
Go

There's a superinjunction on a song about Gordon.

Asgard is the new Shakespeare. And why can all the commentards spell on this article thread?

0
0
Silver badge
Facepalm

Just imagine

I've grown quite fond of the DPP in recent times with some sensible decisions and reasonable actions, way beyond that normally found in public office. Then, the Attorney General opens his mouth and resets everything to normal. If all 75,000 people chose to have trial by jury, it would takes years, probably decades to try them all, so it's clearly stupid. The law is there to protect and serve the people and when people on this scale choose to ignore the law, it's basically not a good law. Simply stop these stupid injunctions and make people live with the consequences of their philandering actions. Might make society better if people didn't think they could get away with it.

1
0
Go

They can just prosecute the first few

The first few people who posted to Twitter are the ones who caused it to become public knowledge, and also mostly likely had a direct connection to the case, knew of the inunction and may have been served by it. Those are the ones the courts can, and arguably should, go after.

They are also the ones most likely to have tried to hide their identity, which may make them hard to track down, but that's another matter. They may also fall outside British jurisdiction. However, sometimes criminals are foolish. If it turned out to be, eg, Imogen herself posting from her home PC, or a Sun journalist posting from their work PC, then I don't see why the court shouldn't come down on them hard.

The injunction system is supposed to protect victims of crimes such as rape, and children, and other such innocents. As such it remains valuable even in the internet age. Hence it should be enforced where reasonably possible.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Just because something interests the public does not mean it is in the public interest...

The fact that something is of interest to the public does not mean the revelation of that information is in the public interest. Public interest in this context refers to the disclosure of information relating to crime, serious wrong doing by corporations, individuals, or goverment bodies. It does not refer to the bedroom antics of a particular football player.

What right do we as members of the public have to read about the sexual activity of celebrities and sportsmen in the tabloids, without their consent to the disclosure of this information? I think you will find the answer is probably none, Giggs has done nothing to court celebrity as far as I'm aware, he did not court the press or seek their attention, he sought to prevent a media scrum around his home and family and he was attempting to stop a previous sexual partner from allegedly extorting money from him under threat of publicising their relationship. Whether you agree with the fact he was cheating on his wife or not, surely you agree that he has a right to a private life.

Consider the flip side of your positions, if the media suddenly decided you were a celebrity then camped outside your house, rang the door bell all the time, followed you around, interviewed and investigated your friends, family, colleagues, hacked your electronic communications and paid your former partners for the prurient details of your sex life so they could publish it for the world to see, I think you would very quickly find that you would want the protection of the law to prevent them from harrassing you.

The attitude of the tabloids in relation to this is risible, all they want is to peddle their kiss and tell bullshit, you'll notice that they are all visible by their absence whenever "voicemail hacking" is mentioned, they were no where to be seen when Trafigura obtained a super injunction on a matter that most deifintley was in the public interest, yet they insist they have a right to publish details about the private sexual activities of consenting adults.

The worst thing is that the halfwits on twitter are playing right into the hands of the tabloids by breaching injunctions, wouldn't it just be fabulous if someone decided in the name of free speech to out Mary Bell's new identity or her daughters, or the identities of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables. There is a reasonable use for privacy injunctions, they prevent the worst excesses of the tabloid press who have all the moral judgment and common sense of a rock.

The tabloid press...AKA... hypocritical subhuman fucking scum.

2
0
Silver badge
Mushroom

Im reminded of Alpha Complex...

Then enjoin the anyone from harassing the man, "noone may ask blah blah blah about any affairs he may or may not have had." Don't ban knowing about the ban. Injunctions are a fine and wonderful applications of the law, super-injunctions are idiotic.

This is the level of absurdity that made Paranoia fun. "Red citizens paint hallways. An orange hallway needs painted yellow, but a red citizen cannot know of the existance of a orange or yellow hallway, therefore cannot paint it. Refusing to paint the hallway is treason, a capital offense. KNOWING about the hallway (which is above your security clearence) is a sure sign you MUST be a spy (and a traitor, did I mention what the punishment for treason was?).

I can't understand how all but the most bureaucratic of bureaucrats can defend this, it would make Joseph Heller proud.

"BOOM," what many a Paranoia game ended with.

0
0
Windows

Makes you laugh

This bloke really does think alot of himself.

The only way this will work is if they put a firewall up like china but set the string 'Block' to 'all'.

0
0

Knowledge of UK affairs

is not geographically limited to the UK. So it is entirely possible for a non-UK resident to publish the information. How does the AG propose to prosecute such a person?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Perversion of liberty

This whole set of stories about these super-injunctions for the rich and famous (and also the so called nobles too I guess) really strike me as a perversion of liberty and justice.

Are there a lot of other laws still on the books that discriminate against the "common people" in favor of the weathy?

0
0
Silver badge
Stop

Or...

...just scrap super-injunctions altogether.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Thank God...

that at least people like this soccer playing fascist have to spend large amounts of money to sue you into silence in the US or Canada, but by the time they do its all public record anyway. The Fishman Affidavit about the "Church" of $cientology comes to mind.

Just curious though, don't you guys have freedom of the press?

0
0
Joke

This is all fine

All they need to do is e-mail all Twitter users every Monday morning with a list of facts that are under injunction and that they can't tweet about. Job done. No more excuses.

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.