ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Injunction

Twitter Vs. Unnamed Sportsman.

with 2 comments

Up front, I like Twitter, the ease of accessing masses of information appeals to me, plus the fact that the rich and powerful can’t exert their customary controls and are brought down to the ground by the free availability of Twitter, so the new court case against Twitter should prove very amusing.

Apparently, lawyers on behalf of a Premier league footballer have served an injunction on Twitter, Business Week reports:

“May 20 (Bloomberg) — Twitter Inc. and some of its users were sued by an entity known as “CTB” in London, according to a court filing.

While the document gave no details, CTB are the initials used by the court in a separate lawsuit to refer to an athlete who won an anonymity order banning the media from publishing stories about his alleged affair with a reality-television star.

The Twitter suit was filed May 18 at the High Court in London according to court records, and named as defendants the San Francisco-based company and “persons unknown responsible for the publication of information on the Twitter accounts” listed in confidential court documents.

A Twitter user on May 8 posted a series of messages claiming a number of U.K. celebrities had received so-called super-injunctions and made claims detailing the activities that the people had sought to keep out of the public eye.

Twitter didn’t respond to a messages seeking comment. Daniel Ingram-Fletcher, a spokesman for the law firm representing CTB, didn’t respond to a messages seeking comment.

The case is: CTB v. Twitter Inc., Persons Unknown, High Court of Justice (Queens Bench Division), HQ11X01814.”

I imagine within an hour or two we will know from tweets on Twitter who CTB is and what’s going on!

It all seems so self-defeating as it highlights these issues and people are naturally going to comment on them, on Twitter, again, leading to the Barbra Streisand effect.

I suppose lawyers love it, they will end up suing tens of thousands of people across the globe who use Twitter, or perhaps they will realise the futility of such actions? When will the legal profession, the rich and powerful finally catch up with technology?

(Hat tip: Index on Censorship)

Update 1: The Guardian has more.

Update 2: Heresy Corner posts on this topic:

“It’s not yet clear how Twitter will respond to the lawsuit. Their terms of service specify that “international users agree to comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content”, but the most notorious of the Twitter accounts listing alleged injunctions (@InjunctionSuper, which posted details of six supposed cases on 8th May and then went quiet) has not been taken down. The company is based in the United States and has little to fear from the English courts – although any assets they have in this country might be vulnerable.

In the short term, however, two things are clear. It is impossible for Twitter to delete all references to the alleged affair from their website. It has long since gone viral. It had gone viral even before the @InjunctionSuper account was set up, which is one reason why (unlike David Allen Green) I don’t think there are good grounds for saying that the account was a deliberate leak by someone in the know. (At least, if there are such grounds they do not lie in the content of the Tweets themselves, but rather in the immediate and disproportionate attention they attracted.) Predictably, the main result of today’s news on Twitter itself has been the proliferation of the name Giggs. Twitter, as a company, is powerless to shut this one down.

Secondly, there are now so many thousand “persons unknown” that they cannot all be sued, or even identified (the more likely intention). And even if CTB’s lawyers were able to track them all down and serve them with injunctions, the self-defeating effect would be to confirm the facts. Suspicion would become actual knowledge.

So how can Twitter satisfy the demands of the English courts – assuming, that is, that CTB’s case is found to have merit? The obvious way would be to block Twitter from the UK, putting it permanently out of the reach of British judges. It could happen. Already some US-based news and gossip sites, including National Enquirer, are unviewable in Britain without use of a proxy server, so alarmed are the publishers by English libel law. If CTB’s case succeeds, or inspires other, Twitter’s bosses might begin to see such a course of action as preferable to fighting costly legal battles on foreign soil. “

Update 3: The Guardian explains the Streisand effect: Secrecy in the digital age.

Update 4: TechCrunch is perplexed by the British legal system and I don’t blame them:

“We’ve been watching the British legal system turn itself into knots for the last couple of weeks, largely due to the ability of Twitter users to break just about any legal ‘super injunction’ a ‘celebrity’ (usually footballers) has on the reporting of their private life (usually affairs). So far so normal for Twitter. What’s a super injunction? It’s when someone rich (these things are very expensive) takes out an injunction on the press that not only stops them reporting something but also stops them reporting that the injunction even exists. That makes it ‘super’, which of course it is anything but.

But today the story took a new turn when it emerged that Twitter Inc. itself is being sued. Oh yes. They are going there.”

Update 5: David Allen Green blogs on it, carefully:

“It is important at this stage to be aware of what one cannot know for certain:

1. that the “CTB” is actually the same person as “CTB” in the recent privacy case (though it appears the same law firm is instructed);

2. what the claim is for in terms of law – is it a privacy claim or is it under some other form of law; and

3. what the remedy requested is – is it a damages claim or is it for disclosure by Twitter of third party information (for example the information of those who have used Twitter accounts to break – rather than repeat – allegations), or for something else.

As yet, we simply do not know.”

Carter-Ruck, Trafigura And Those Emails.

leave a comment »

These posts could get a bit big, so I will split them up, Richard Wilson’s comments are here.

The BBC will probably clear down any criticism, no matter how mild, of Trafigura, so I think it is best to keep a copy of those Trafigura emails which indicate they knew what they were doing and why.

A copy of those emails is at the BBC.

More on journalism.co.uk too.

Trafigura Intimidates The BBC.

with 3 comments

Trafigura are still at it.

Despite overwhelming and compelling evidence which demonstrate their culpability and negligence in polluting the Ivory Coast, Trafigura are using highly paid lawyers to bully people and silent the media.

In this instance, they’ve managed to intimidate the rather weak will BBC as Left Foot Forward reports:

“Libel reform campaigners have reacted with “dismay” at the BBC’s decision to concede to toxic waste shippers Trafigura in the High Court. In a statement, the BBC said it withdrew “the allegation that deaths, miscarriages or serious or long-term injuries were caused by the waste and apologises to Trafigura for having claimed otherwise.”

The case was brought by Carter Ruck on behalf after the BBC claimed in its Newsnight programme of 13 May 2009 titled ‘Dirty Tricks and Toxic waste‘ that Trafigura had caused deaths by being involved in the dumping of toxic waste in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast. A number of blogs carried the report even after it was removed by the BBC. In February 2007, Reuters reported that “Ivory Coast has confirmed the deaths of a five more people from exposure to toxic waste dumped in Abidjan last August, taking the death toll to 15.”

Readers will remember how Trafigura employed these tactics recently.

Minton, Carter-Ruck and Trafigura.

with 3 comments

Trafigura’s desire to keep the lid on the Minton report meant it spent an inordinate amount of money hiring the best lawyers that money can buy in Britain, Carter-Ruck, to keep even the name of the Minton report secret, lest people read it. The Guardian examines some of its contents:

“The Minton report, commissioned in 2006 from the London-based firm’s scientific consultants, said that based on the “limited” information they had been given Trafigura’s oil waste, dumped cheaply the month before in a city in Ivory Coast , was potentially highly toxic, and “capable of causing severe human health effects”.

The study said early reports of large scale medical problems among the inhabitants of Abidjan, including respiratory and eye problems, discomfort, and nausea, were consistent with a release of a cloud of potentially lethal hydrogen sulphide gas over the city.

The author of this initial draft study, John Minton, of consultants Minton, Treharne & Davies, said dumping the waste would have been illegal in Europe and the proper method of disposal should have been a specialist chemical treatment called wet air oxidation.

Although the report was cautious in tone, pointing out that unreliable press reports and “mass hysteria” might have led to exaggeration of alleged ill effects, its contents were unwelcome.

Trafigura subsequently did not use the report in the personal injury report in the claim against them and did not disclose the report’s existence.

It issued a series of public statements over the next three years saying the waste had been routinely disposed of and was harmless. Trafigura based this decision on other reports produced from an analysis of the slops obtained from the Probo Koala ship. Trafigura dismissed complaints of illness in a lawsuit brought by 30,000 inhabitants of Abidjan, before being eventually forced last month to pay them £30m in compensation and legal costs in a confidential out of court settlement.”

The actual report is on Wikileaks here as a PDF.

Trafigura have spent vast sums of money trying to override press freedom, keep secret the Minton report and protect their reputation, yet in the age of the Internet their actions have had the opposite effect.

Update 1: This page contains the related Guardian, Trafigura and the Probo Koala information.

Update 2: More on Twitter’s role in breaking the veil of secrecy imposed by Carter-Ruck.

Update 3: Stephen Fry as seen by the Torygraph.

Update 4: findingDulcinea on British Libel Law Examined After Controversial Gag Order Against The Guardian.