My name is Andrew Paul Barratt, I’m a student of Applied Computing at The University of Dundee and on the 21st of May 2011, I tweeted the identity of a man who has a super-injunction to hide the fact that he had an affair as Ryan Giggs.
There exists a paradox in the campaigns for internet freedom, the campaign to protect the privacy of ourselves and others online and the campaign to be able to say anything about what we want, who we want and how we want. I say this to show that we recognise that respect for privacy is of great importance however, the use of this to put limits of our freedom of speech is a place where the line must be drawn.
In the United Kingdom, an injunction can be sought after by those wishing to keep matters of their personal life private by denying the press from publishing details of said matters. A super-injunction is much the same but goes one step further in that it denies the press from making public the fact that an injunction even exists.
Recently, Ryan Giggs, a footballer who has played for Wales and been honoured as an Officer of the British Empire (OBE), claimed a super-injunction to hide the fact that he had an affair with ex Big Brother Housemate, Imogen Thomas.
After his name, previously known only as CBT, was leaked on Twitter, calls for prosecution were made, igniting a rampage of rebellion with thousands of people, including myself, tweeting and retweeting Giggs’ name again and again.
On the 23rd of May, at least 75,000 had published his name and Member of Parliament (MP) John Hemming stood in the house during discussion on privacy orders and named the footballer, thus using his parliamentary privilege to break the court order. It’s worth noting that parliament is always broadcast live on dedicated national television channel, BBC Parliament.
Mr Hemming asked whether it was right to carry on supporting injunctions that it was clear that the population of the United Kingdom had no support for, referring to them as “a law that clearly does not have public consent.”
And so the key point was addressed, in a democratic country, where the government that makes the laws is chosen by its people, how can a law that goes against our freedom of speech have ever been allowed to exist? I for one, will not support it.
Today, the 25th of May 2011, Twitter’s European boss, Tony Wang announced that they would hand over the names of all those who had revealed Ryan Giggs’ affair and that all of them would be on their own to defend themselves, “whether that is a motion to quash the order or to oppose it or do a number of other things to defend themselves.”
Well my decision is to oppose it. I will not delete what I tweeted and I will not be made silent. It is our freedom of speech and it is my right to defend it. Injunctions that deny our right to say what we like are, in my opinion, illegal and I will campaign to see an end to them.