Friday, May 27, 2011

Injunctions and superinjunctions

Yes, I am trying to blog more. Whether I will succeed... we shall see. So theres been a lot of furore about Mr Giggs and his wicked ways recently. People want to make this an issue of privacy, or an issue of freedom, but as with all issues its a bit more complicated than that.

Mr Giggs job is to kick a football around. He has rather good at this (or so I'm led to believe), and is paid handsomely for the privelege. As part of his fan base comes from children, one could argue that it behooves him to act in a way fitting to a role model. I don't fully agree that deciding to kick a ball for a living means you have to act like a saint, but certainly in one's public appearances one could make an effort to be polite and decent. Of course behind closed doors it is of course your business.

Those tabloids, and people, arguing that it is in the public interest to know that he had sex with a former big brother contestant are wrong. The public might be interested, because we all have that gossipy part of us that wants to know, but there is no way in which this private action of Giggs affects his public action. If he was actively campaigning for marital fidelity then perhaps there might be an argument, but, once again, he kicks a ball around for a living.

Now suing twitter wasn't the smartest of options, and led to the "I am sparticus" actions on that website, thus pretty much ensuring that he would become public in the long run. However, frankly, the first person to leak him on twitter should probably be prosecuted. The law was very clear, its pretty obvious the first person was aware of the law, and deliberately breaking it. Injunctions (not a super injunction actually, this has been drastically mis-reported) do exist for a reason. I might have more sympathy for the law breaking if it had been for any reason other than spreading muck. As mentioned, Giggs private life is not in the public interest.

Obviously you can't sue twitter, just as you can't sue the phone company, and once information is out there, you can't prosecute every user. But you really can prosecute those who initially break the law.

Do I think injunctions/super injunctions are terrible things? I don't know. I don't think our society's fascination with affairs is at all healthy, but I also don't think injunctions are the way to fixing that particular cancer. And injunctions can be abused, as Trafigura showed (although, as pointed out, got MUCH less coverage than this story, despite being several times more important), but we do have a mechanism now to deal with that, thanks to parliamentary privelege allowing politicians to intervene in a case of abuse.

Twitter is an echo chamber, where one opinion can bounce back and forwards unchanging, and 140 characters doesn't feel terribly nuanced sometimes. The story is usually more complicated than people think it is.

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