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Should Americans Care About Superinjunctions?

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, May 31 2011

In a Forbes op-ed published over the weekend, Mercatus fellow Adam Thierer digs into the relevance of the British courts' efforts to uphold "superinjunctions," privacy orders that effectively bar the press (and anyone else) from reporting on something that happened, the people involved, and that there's a prohibition on disclosing it all.

Thierer's take is that British attempts to enforce them in the age of Twitter are a "rearguard action" possible "only at great cost, both in economic and social terms."

Which isn't to say that government won't try anyway, or that it is impossible. Iran, for example, is seeking iron-fisted control of its Internet infrastructure, a national Internet with no — but, more likely, very few — connections to the rest of the networked world.

Think of it more as a national intranet. They could call it Iran-intra.

And while, as Thierer notes, Americans can carry on tweeting about Ryan Giggs — an epicenter of this superinjunction fracas who one PR expert suggests might have brought the whole thing on himself — and Trafigura to their hearts' content, it's unclear what if anything will happen to Brits who used Twitter to break the superinjunction in their own country.

"I'm so on the Ryan Giggs hit list if they do go anywhere with it," open government consultant Dominic Campbell said on Twitter after I passed along news that Twitter would comply with any request by the British government for the names of people who violated the Giggs superinjunction.

He added, "Along with a few hundred thousand others."