Privacy Versus Freedom of Speech - Twitter, Wikileaks and the Law?

In the Universal declaration of human rights there are two interesting articles and it seems to me that they are both equally as important as each other however they can also be in opposition to one another – creating a subtle dichotomy in terms of the law and its interpretation the first article is Article
Article 12 states : “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” -
Article 19 states, however;
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Thus we have a dilemma and one that appears to have occurred in the case of super-injunctions versus electronic expression of speech on the internet from the micro-blogging site Twitter. Here a footballer has taken out a injunction against the media printing anything about his affair with a model. Only a couple of months ago worldwide Governments, especially the US were embarrassed and indeed calling for legal action against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for allowing his site to publish sensitive telegrams and intelligence gathering on various countries and publish this information within the public domain. Here we have had an individual demanding ‘privacy’ and governments requiring secrecy for security.
In spite of this the users and site owners on the internet are making history by disregarding either law or honour and choose to ‘publish and be damned’
Today however, Twitter’s new European boss has made clear that Twitter will co-operate with any local legislation and where users have been found to have broken local laws in their country that they will contact not only the user to inform them that they may face prosecution but also assist the authorities by providing user information should it be required. Users of Twitter have now been warned not to break their countries laws.

He has suggested that users who break privacy injunctions by posting on the site could face the UK courts. Of those users who flouted any privacy laws he said that those that did "bad things" needed to defend themselves – however he also warned that the site would hand over user information to the authorities where they were "legally required".
Currently lawyers and the courts are looking to establish the identity of those people responsible for naming the footballer who had taken out the super injunction. These people will probably when found be not as fortunate as MP John Hemming who repeated the Twitter gossip to make Parliament aware on Monday of Ryan Giggs as named on Twitter as the person who had used a super-injunction to hide his alleged affair under the guise of discrediting the law surrounding the use of super-injunction. Mr Hemmings MP using his right of Parliamentary privilege to legally do so. He previously named disgraced banker chief Fred Goodwin as having taken out a super-injunction to cover a similar extra-marital affair.
Twitter‘s Mr. Wang told BBC reporters at the e-G8 Forum today though that social networking platforms have a responsibility to not to defend the user “but to protect that user’s right to defend him or herself".
Legal jurisdiction and the internet is the hot topic at the moment at the e-G8 forum with Eric Schmidt of Google and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook also speaking on the issue at the event. Many see that the US constitution allows for a clear cut answer – the freedom of speech over antiquated UK law , Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia likened the use of ‘privacy laws’ to secrecy and the Chinese government’s response to free speech "I do view it to being similar to the Chinese situation where they also cover up misdeeds of high ranking people,"
It is apparent that governments and popular celebrities preferring privacy and secrecy and the internet demanding open free speech will have to resolve this opposition to each other soon and unfortunately as the internet is global local jurisdiction and laws may now require a complete rethink.

Cicero.

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