Posted by MacRanger as Uncategorized
If the precedant set in the UK jumps the pond. A Constable in England, Richard Horton, who ran The NightJack blog, was forced by a UK court to give up his anonymity.
“Blogging is a public activity with no right to anonymity, the high court ruled today in a decision expected to have far-reaching repercussions for thousands of bloggers who keep their identities secret.
Richard Horton had obtained a temporary injunction against the Times after a reporter discovered he was the officer behind the NightJack blog, which attracted hundreds of thousands of followers to its behind-the-scenes commentary on policing.
Horton, a detective constable with the Lancashire constabulary, prevented the Times from revealing his identity after arguing the paper would be putting him at risk of disciplinary action for disclosing confidential information about prosecutions within the force.
However, in a landmark judgment Mr Justice Eady overturned the injunction, stating that Horton, whose blog at one time had around 500,000 readers a week, had “no reasonable expectation of privacy”.
“I do not accept that it is part of the court’s function to protect police officers who are, or think they may be, acting in breach of police disciplinary regulations from coming to the attention of their superiors,” Eady added.
The case comes as court decisions on freedom of expression and privacy, both rights protected by the Human Rights Act, come under increasing scrutiny after a series of controversial court decisions, many involving Eady.
Ruling in favour of the right of the press to report details in the public interest, Eady stated his decision was in part informed by “a growing trend towards openness and transparency in such matters”.
However the implications of the judgment for bloggers who rely on anonymity to reveal confidential information will be immediate, critics of the ruling have said.
“Thousands of regular bloggers who communicate nowadays via the internet under a cloak of anonymity would be horrified to think that the law would do nothing to protect their anonymity if someone carried out the necessary detective work and sought to unmask them,” said Hugh Tomlinson QC, the barrister for Horton.
The law protects confidential information where that information is shared in circumstances that are proved to be confidential, and where there is a “reasonable expectation of privacy”.
Today’s ruling, believed to be the first on the privacy rights of internet bloggers, confirms that a desire to remain anonymous is insufficient to be enforced by law.”
As we know, lots of bloggers do so under anonymous names or handles for various reasons. Some do it for protecting themselves from liable charges, or employer backlash. However they do it for, they are hardly the first.
For years authors of books, and even plays have written under anonymous names for varied reasons and no one complained. Yet in the age when the public conversation has become so intense it’s a matter of time before the unmasking begins.
The Commander in Chief at Work!
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