May 232011
 
 May 23, 2011  Court, Non-U.S., Online

Kurt Wimmer comments:

The need for an American point of view arose because, not surprisingly, the athlete’s name had been revealed by a newer medium — Twitter. If nature abhors a vacuum, the Internet abhors an injunction. The name had been revealed in the Spanish press and by two American publications, and a Twitter member with the name “InjunctionSuper” had tweeted the athlete’s name (along with the names of other celebrities who allegedly had obtained super-injunctions, not all of which apparently were accurate). The athlete’s name also was available within nanoseconds to anyone with an Internet browser — just enter “footballer injunction” into Bing, and dozens of stories reveal the name. But the athlete’s lawyers, the aggressive plaintiff’s firm Schillings, had decided that they must know the identity of the Twitter subscriber who tweeted the identity.

English courts have granted a search order against “Twitter, Inc. and persons unknown.” The Lord Chief Justice commented that “modern technology is out of control,” and he called for those who “peddle lies” on the Internet to be fined.

As I told my hosts at Sky, this is all futile.

Read more on Inside Privacy.  One of the things I found thought-provoking about Kurt’s commentary is his point that the story would be considered “newsworthy.”   In this case, you’ve got an athlete who put his image as a “family man” out to his fans, and he reportedly had an affair with another celebrity.  But what if the person he had the affair with was not a celebrity but just a private individual?  Would that woman have any right to privacy from the media in the UK (or here, for that matter?) or would the fact that he’s newsworthy trump any privacy rights she may have?

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