Technology is out of control, says law man

The Lord Judge has said that modern technology is out of control, possibly after mistaking Terminator 2 for a documentary.

What he refers to is social media, in particular Twitter, seemingly making a mockery of the much maligned superinjunction.

A regular injunction often leaves room for reporters to write up a case albeit under anonymity – for example, “A footballer did a thing.” The superinjunction, however, puts a stop to journalists or publications even reporting that an injunction has taken place, with swift penalties in store for anyone found in breach.

The problem is a judge does not have much control to stop people doing or saying what they like online. Lawmen can lean on services to crack down on users and there have been cases where Twitter has been forced to hand over user details in the past.

Lord Judge, the Guardian says, thinks modern technology is totally out of control, in particular with people who “peddle lies” using the net. A recent report from a judicial committee says that superinjunctions must be granted in “very” limited circumstances, and they must not last long. While the report does not mention Twitter, the Lord Judge reckons “anybody can put anything on such sites”. Which is kind of the point.

Jemima Khan was one celebrity who was called out by a Twitter account on a superinjunction that didn’t exist. She had, however, filed for another superinjunction which was turned down.

But his fear is those with genuine court orders for protection are “at the mercy of modern technology.” The argument against is it’s generally the wealthy who can afford to go to court with superinjunctions anyway.

Regulating the internet is a dangerous game and, frankly, not very possible without walking down the censorship route which leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Meanwhile the Press Complaints Commission is investigating the idea of regulating journalists who use Twitter as if they had a by-line in the newspaper.

That said, the idea that modern technology is “out of control” is not a silly one.

Perhaps it should be applied to monopolistic technology giants with fingers in every pie, who lobby governments across the world to curry favour, rather than debating who’s had an affair with whom and the implications of Twitter.