Monday, May 23, 2011

Free Speech on Twitter

From the NYTimes:

SAN FRANCISCO — What began as seamy gossip about an affair between a famous British soccer player and a reality TV star has quickly become another test over how far the rights to privacy and free speech extend online, where social media operate in countries with vastly different laws.

The soccer player has been granted a so-called super-injunction, a stringent and controversial British legal measure that prevents media outlets from identifying him, reporting on the story or even from revealing the existence of the court order itself.

But tens of thousands of Internet users have flouted the injunction by revealing his name on Twitter, Facebook and online soccer forums, sites that blur the definition of the press and are virtually impossible to police.

Last week, amid growing outrage in Britain over the use of super-injunctions, the athlete obtained a court order in British High Court demanding that Twitter reveal the identities of the anonymous users who had posted the messages. A Twitter spokesman, Matt Graves, said the company could not comment on the court order or how it planned to respond.

Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, said, “It’s really going to the core of Twitter’s service and trying to balance the speech of its users and the fact that countries have different laws and norms about speech.”

Full story here.

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