Privacy, Twitter and the Law (2)

Lord Soley

Further to my post below, there was a statement in the Lords yesterday (or an urgent PQ repeated from the Commons to be precise).

A joint committee made up of six members of the Commons and six from the Lords is to look into the state of the law following the recent publicity. A number of interventions focused on the question of Parliamentary privilege and the current ‘footballer’case. I made the point that we must not forget the wider issue of privacy which often relates to children, family or personal tragedies etc.

This debate is still driven too much by the interest the press have in  making money from salacious stories. I think I would find that a little easier to accept if we were to read a few more stories about the editors, owners and some of the journalists who don’t practice what their papers preach. They are remarkably adept at covering up their own behaviour.

Key hole peepers beware!

7 comments for “Privacy, Twitter and the Law (2)

  1. maude elwes
    24/05/2011 at 2:26 pm

    This revisit to a subject already covered recently strikes me as similar to the EU asking for another referendum because the first time round the response they got didn’t suit them.

    The only way we will enjoy more freedom is to insist on openness by government. Openness by government means avoiding secrecy. Which, because of a requirement of exposure, entails revelation. You cannot have secret revelation.

    Clearly the majority of the public want more revelation not less. And the press should indeed be more open regarding their own personal activities if they expect the rest of us to submit to their scrutiny. We have entered into the age of the global village, brought about by those who lead us. The Lords went along with this notion presented to them by previous governments and now, it appears, they’re wondering if the ‘openness’ this requires is a good idea. Yet, at the same time want to embrace the EU decision on privacy law. Openness and freedom of expression, but, secrecy when openness is not in line with a requirement of secrecy. And you wonder why the nation believes you have collectively lost your minds.

    Too late to peruse the options now, openness is the freedom of information and the right to free expression, and what is really so frightening about that? If you fear it, could it be because there may be something to hide after all?….

    An example of this, although a little off topic but closely related is, this morning we hear Mr Cameron tells our news outlets that we are to unite further than we already are, with the USA. To many this will be a frightening revelation. Was he open in his manifesto when asking us to vote for him? Did he reveal by explanation that this was his objective should he become our PM?

    Has he explained exactly what that means to the UK and its people? How much is this unity going to cost each one of us, both financially and socially or culturally? What is the American government expecting of us by having such a contract? If that is what this is? And what are we expecting from them in return?

    We are told this move is necessary, now why is that? It sounds to me as if we have another Blair in the lead. Lucrative business being united with the USA for his kind of PM.

    Doesn’t it occur to government and those in the Lords that the British people should be told the details of this sudden renewal of close ties? And doesn’t it occur to the same government and Lords that the nation should be offered a referendum on such an overwhelming move as this?

    • danfilson
      24/05/2011 at 9:42 pm

      Off topic indeed! I cannot see the relevance of this aside to the main issue of regulating Twitter and the like from committing breaches of injunctions and the allied issue of free comment in a free society.

  2. Gareth Howell
    24/05/2011 at 4:13 pm

    Isn’t the whole point that Twitter is governed by the laws of a US state, Iowa perhaps?

    Mr Hemings MP has done what an MP is classically there for, to defend the rights of a Constituent (although in this case probably not his.

    There is a conflict between Globalism, ie international law as purveyed by the USA, and local law ie UK law.

    In the cases that do not attract the attention of the courts, the law of the UK has tacitly changed to comply with that of the US state in question.

    There is nothing you can do about that.

    I think I mentioned in my first reply here on the subject,the obvious answer of parliamentary privilege, although from a slightly different angle.

    Baroness Buscombe’s task is perfectly easy.
    She may continue exactly as she does, but if US law kicks in she is …… well I won’t say what she is….. he commission is emasculated and useless.

    If it takes a hundred questions to ministers as Mr Hemings did in the case of Twitters
    then the law will not need to be changed at all.

    But if you have got to change the law to allow for Twitterers to have contempt for it, then that is going to be quite amusing.

    JP/exDPM is right to point out that the problem has been around for all of 14 years since the laws of a US state were invoked on primitive message boards at that time; the effect was to gag in line with the US law, because Compuserve inc did not want it published.

    Every time contempt? Privilege of parliament by constituent’s, or any, MP, to name.

    30 seconds of parliamentary time. Blagger may be able to work out how much that is worth.

  3. Gareth Howell
    24/05/2011 at 4:28 pm

    Article 10 of the ECHR is only a very general guide and the way it the ICHR is interpreted on either side of the pond may be very different, only very general principles.

    nd any attempt to interfere with that, even by the use of parliamentary privilege, simply because a politician cannot agree with the judgment when he does not know the facts, is to be deplored?

    To be deplored yes but sweet fanny adams anybody can do to prevent it. To be deplored because it is bowing to US (Californian)state law at the expense of the decorum of UK law, and entirely practical to do so.

    Without publishing the names using privilege
    every time such contempt is utilized, which may not be that often, it is hard to say how Lord Soley’s committee can achieve anything
    of Value.

    It is W3 (World wide web) globalism which is in question not conventions on Human rights or local law.

    The ulterior motives of Twitter to further its own interests are also seriously in question. There have been far more unpleasant campaigns against public figures,
    and not against footballers, run for the purpose of advancing this or that emerging technology.

    The case of Louise Woodward, the very delightful nanny, wa sone with a less serious outcome, run for the sake of a new technology
    belonging to Sky TV. The ratings leapt by millions on that technology in days.

    All that is gold may not glitter either.

  4. Gareth Howell
    24/05/2011 at 5:23 pm

    And thirdly the noble lord in the debate pointed to remarked that the privacy laws may be just as tight in US state laws, but evidently different.

    I have no doubt the footballer was serious in his intent to keep it private, in UK but he would have been better advised to take proceedings in both California AND UK, if he is well off enough to take such proceedings any way.

    There are a good many International law firms which have offices both in California and London, so what was the problem for him.

    One England footballer even promotes a team in California by playing there regularly.

  5. MilesJSD
    24/05/2011 at 8:58 pm

    Destructivity towards any life or lifesupport can never be a “Private” matter;

    only a cowardly-secretive one.

    2058 24 JSDM.

  6. Gareth Howell
    25/05/2011 at 8:24 pm

    The US law has something called “true” libel, in other words if the said individual can persuade the judges to prevent publication, even if it is true, then he may.

    That seems rather like the UK Law of the 17thC before the broadsheets became common currency,
    (Howell and L’Estrange amongst others).

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