Soccer star going after Twitter users
Across the pond, there’s a big fuss over something called “super injunctions,” which as an American, I had never heard of until stumbling across a story on the International Journal of Sport Finance blog.
In short, a super injunction is a legal tactic in England that is, to quote Tech Crunch Europe,
“when someone rich (these things are very expensive) takes out an injunction on the press that not only stops them [from] reporting something but also stops them [from] reporting that the injunction even exists.”
You think Tiger Woods would have paid any price to have a super injunction imposed in November 2009? That’s exactly what Manchester United soccer star Ryan Giggs allegedly did, obtaining a super injunction in order to prevent the English press from revealing information about an affair.
But the super injunction didn’t stop Twitter users from discussing Giggs’ personal affairs, which led to Giggs suing Twitter and attempting to obtain information on approximately 75,000 of its users for violating the super injunction. It’s a story that has consumed England.
There’s a litany of issues I have with this story but I’ll just focus on three questions:
• Why does England think it’s a legally sound principle to allow people to pay a large fee in order to prevent the press from reporting information? As a journalist for more than a decade, I’m absolutely baffled why the UK press hasn’t fought this legal practice until the law was changed. Now, though, it appears some are starting to put up that fight.
• Since Twitter is based in San Francisco, why would anyone expect the social network site to follow UK laws? It appears, however, as though Twitter may release information on UK users who “violated” the super injunction. And I put violated in quotes because that leads me to my third question.
• Since super injunctions are directed toward the press, why is Twitter even being sued? Twitter is certainly not a media organization and its users are not members of the media, and super injunctions are directed toward the UK media, not the public. It could be argued that since journalists often use Twitter to report quick news hitters on their accounts that Twitter is a news outlet, but that’s a far stretch.
Several in the UK media are actually siding with the English courts. In fact, a columnist for The Guardian went just a wee bit overboard when he wrote the following:
“Unless we decide to become an anarchistic society, Facebook and Twitter must be reeled in.”
Fortunately, most in the media and public find this story totally absurd.