Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Super-Injunction.

What's a super-injunction?


According to this article, a super-injunction "stops anyone publishing information about the applicant which is said to be confidential or private - but also prevents anyone from reporting that the injunction itself even exists."

As soon as I read that, I thought, that's so meta. [Although it can get more meta - but more on that later.]

Getting a super-injunction, which isn't exactly provided for by the English law, is apparently a remedy that judges of civil courts in England and Wales have derived from an "interpretation" of existing laws to protect an applicant's privacy.

How does it work? The same article illustrates:
"Taking a hypothetical case, a Premiership footballer asks the High Court to stop a kiss-and-tell story from appearing in next weekend's papers, saying that he is a victim of wrongdoing and blackmail by the other party.
If the judge agrees to a super-injunction, the newspaper cannot report the allegations - and it is also prevented from saying that the footballer went to court to gag the paper. If the newspaper breaks the injunction, the editor could be prosecuted for contempt of court."
Since the gag order seemed to apply only to newspapers and media outfits, people found a way around the whole thing and posted the information about these super-injunctions on non-UK hosted websites, including Twitter.


But Twitter Inc. was sued. Lawyers challenged Twitter in court to reveal the identities of Twitter users who violated super-injunctions. Tony Wang, the head of Twitter in Europe, said they were ready to "hand over user information to the authorities where they were 'legally required.'"


We don't have super-injunctions in the Philippines (yet?), and our privacy laws aren't as, well, complex, as those found elsewhere, but the idea is alarming. Users might now have to think about the extent of the relative freedom they have online (on Twitter especially) in a time when super-injunctions are possible, and social network platforms who are always "ready to cooperate."

This article looked into the future of injunctions and discusses the author's funny take on it:
"There is, of course, an obvious next step: the meta-injunction. This is a form of legal suppression so all-injuncting that it is illegal for me to tell you that there is such a thing. I have only just coined the term, and already I am risking jail. Whatever you do, don't call my lawyer."

#16 - Somayyah Abdullah
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