Saturday, 21 May 2011

Injunctions and privacy

Lord Neuberger has just published his report on privacy law and injunctions. The Lord Chief Justice, Igor Judge, has complained that the Internet is out of control. Allegations can appear there regardless of British court orders. Something needs to be done about this.

No it doesn't, and no it shouldn't. The courts have got used to having their authority respected, so one can understand their fury when technology means that people can take action that flouts court orders within the jurisdiction, while at the same time saying "Stuff you, I am outside the jurisdiction". My view that the law not only has lost, but should lose, is based on the following considerations.

1. The state has never had any business controlling what we say, or what we read, or offering help to others who would like to control what we say or read. Artificial technology is at last coming to the rescue of natural justice.

2. The harm that is done to reputations is the mere disclosure of truth. No-one has any right to keep the truth hidden. If you did not want it made public, you should not have done it. The law of privacy, in the form of an enforceable right against non-public bodies, is an invention for which there is no justification.

3. Since the harm done is mere embarrassment, there is no justification for effectively extending the writ of courts of one country to other countries through international agreements.

4. Lies are also put up on the Internet, but if there is to be a remedy there, it lies in the law of defamation, not in injunctions. And if there were no injunctions, it is much more likely that the truth would appear in the mainstream media, undermining lies on the Internet.

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