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New Media versus The Law

I’ve written about the end of privacy before, but now the big news in the UK is that privacy is a joke.

There is no such thing.

For example, we had a court of law here that could implement superinjunctions to stop the media leaking information about people’s private lives.

Major stars of media, sport and business had taken out these superinjunctions, or “gagging orders” as they are known colloquially, to stop details of their inflammatory matters getting into the press.

Unfortunately, these gagging orders are a joke as, just by placing them, the knowledge of their exploits become known to many people.

This is why so much is leaked, such as the details of the private matter of Sir Fred Goodwin having a fling with a senior colleague after the Royal Bank of Scotland’s collapse.

Then we went one step further and had some loose cannon release details of all the major superinjunctions in the UK.


The orders are court orders that are meant to mean no mention of any names can be made by any media.

The trouble is that it’s old media that conforms to the law, not new media.

For example, the old media can now report details of Sir Fred’s affair because the information was shared in our Parliament.  This is a Parliamentary Privilege that allows some breach of court orders if a member of government believes it to be in the public interest.

As a result, John Hemming and Lord Oakeshott discussed details of some of these superinjunctions and suddenly Sir Fred’s affair could be reported by old media.

And boy, did they have a heyday, with the Sun's front page on Friday wrapping it up the best …

Sir Fred1

And more inside …

Sir Fred

Unfortunately, as British media's most loathed businessman, Sir Fred should expect the media knife to lodge in his back at every opportunity. 

Even so, old media is still unable to report the information about who he had the affair with, even though new media has made it clear who the lady in question is.

More worryingly for Fred is also the fact that the FSA are now going to rake over those coals.

All in all, it is clear that new media has completely decimated privacy, as demonstrated by the lack of power of the courts.

Privacy Week

For example, one of the leaked names is a certain Manchester United football player who is implicated in an alleged seven month affair with a former Big Brother contestant.

As soon as the player went for a writ against twitter, then things got even more interesting.

The player’s lawyers lodged papers in the UK High Court ordering twitter to disclose who the leaker on their website is.  The order is not against twitter as a company itself, but "to obtain limited information concerning the unlawful use of twitter by a small number of individuals who may have breached a court order".

The thing is that twitter is based in the USA, and does not necessarily have to comply.

Equally, by lodging such a motion, the footballer in question has become the target of almost every twitter user.

Again, in this privacy debate, the Sun's front pages put it best …

The Sun

… and yes, this week really did mark the end of privacy. 

But not without a fight.

For example, just by serving a writ against twitter, the footballer in question became the target of every internet search for the past 72 hours …


… and then his lawyers made it worse by taking action against a journalist who named the footballer in a tweet.  The journalist is now also the target of the writ.

In an even more ludicrous state of affais, due to the nature of the superinjuction, the journalist cannot be named. 

It's a very Harry Potter style moment when the man who named the man who cannot be named cannot be named … unless you're in new media world.

All in all, privacy has just become a 'laughing stock'.


About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here…

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  • tonyw

    I cannot confirm or deny that I have a super injunction. I can confirm that I am not or never have been a professional footballer:-)
    Today’s Metro newspaper (a free daily paper handed out at stations) has a picture on the front page showing three prominent Man Utd players who brought their kids on to the pitch, presumably to demonstrate their family values:-)