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The Europe Roundup: Journalists Allowed to Livetweet in Courts

BY Antonella Napolitano | Thursday, December 15 2011

Royal Courts of Justice, London. Ell Brown/ Flickr
  • UK | Journalists Allowed to Livetweet in Courts 
    Starting this week journalists will now be able to use Twitter to do trial reporting in court in both England and Wales: yesterday the Lord Chief Justice released a guidance on the use of "live text-based forms of communication (including Twitter)." With the issue of this guidance, the press will be no longer required to seek permission to live-tweet during court cases.
    As reported by BBC:

    The equipment should be unobtrusive, hand held and silent and the number of mobile devices in use at any given time may have to be limited if they interfere with a courts own sound systems.

    Members of the public will still have to make an application to the judge in a case if they want to use the devices. 

    Livetweeting was allowed in court for the first time about a year ago during the bail hearings of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Since then, journalists have had to request permission to use Twitter and similar tools on a case-by-case basis.

    This won’t mean that we are going to have also pictures of soundbites from UK courts, though: it will still be illegal to take photographs, videos and audio recordings in court. Both are forbidden, according to laws dating back respectively to 1925 and 1981.

  • Slovakia | Visualising Business Registry Data

    In the past few months Slovakia's activism scene has been focused on creating tools that monitor government and its relation with business.
    The latest one to be explored is Vorsr.sk, a tool for visual exploration of Slovakia's business registry.
    Global Voices interviewed founder Michal Habala as part of their Technology for Transparency Network.
    The tool grabs data from the current registry database and delivers up-to-date connections of searched for individuals. It uses JUNG, an open-source Java project by students from the University of California.

    As the business registry contains information about people who own a business (totally or in part) or are board members of one, the main use seems to be the possibility to find connections between enterprises and between enterprises and government. But, even though the project is growing, users do not seem to go deeper and mostly limit the use to their own company, says Habala: one of the next steps will be releasing tutorials and videos showing the potential of the tools.
    Founders should be careful, though: the project seems in fact similar to that of ZNasichDani.sk ("From Our Taxes" in Slovak). The app developers (among the winners of the EU-promoted Open Data Challenge) had many troubles when one of the contractors that was mentioned in the database went to the court of Bratislava, which released an injunction requiring the removal of the information related to her name.

    The project has been supported by Slovakian transparency organisation Fair Play Alliance (that sustains also ZNasichDani.sk) and by the independent Czech portal Kohovolit.eu, that monitors Czech MPs and MEPs.

  • France | A Prime Minister in (Twitter) disguise

    While many politicians have to deny news spread by fake Twitter accounts, French Prime Minister François Fillon did quite the opposite.
    As reported by Le Monde, last Sunday the Prime Minister admitted in fact to have subscribed to Twitter under the name @fdebeauce. The declaration followed a sort of "hunt" launched by UMP deputy Jerome Chartier, to whom the PM declared that he had joined the microblogging site (and that was one of his followers).
    The "winner" of the scavenger hunt was the teacher and IT expert @smarchau, who found out who found out who was
    behind the account after a reference to the Japanese Prime Minister, made by the account's owner at a time when Fillon was actually in Japan. (in the screenshot you can see Marchau's answer to the question on the Twitter identity of the PM, posed by Le Monde's journalist Arnaud Leparmentier)

    While some commenters said that this was a way for Fillon to follow his ministers' declarations on Twitter,  the Prime Minister's entourage confirmed the rumour and declared that the account was not an official voice of the government and that there won't be further activity.
    Yesterday the account was renamed lazlo25; it currently shows more than 5,000 followers and only 4 tweets.
    Sounds like a lost opportunity: too bad we could not read more from the Prime Minister in disguise.

Plus
An analysis of the New and Improved Website of the European Parliament
The Czech Republic and the Open Data Community

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