Feeds

UK.gov to warn tweeting twits, celebs 'n' pals on court case comments

OMG, you can't SAY that #contempt

The essential guide to IT transformation

The UK's attorney general is going to publish social media guidance on Twitter and the government's website to stop tweeters, Facebookers and other social media types from committing contempt of court when talking about legal cases.

Dominic Grieve QC said that the guidance would help to ensure fair trials for people.

Anyone commenting publicly about an ongoing case or defendant in a way that could prejudice the outcome of a trial could be prosecuted for contempt and put in prison, but many folks on social media don't realise they're held to the same standard as traditional media outlets when talking about criminal cases.

The social media guidelines come after celebrity Peaches Geldof was recently forced to apologise for tweets relating to the case of Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins, where she named his two female co-defendants, the mothers whose babies had been abused.

Publishing details that can lead to the identification of sex offence victims is a criminal offence, as the A-G warned at the time.

"Blogs and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook mean that individuals can now reach thousands of people with a single tweet or post. This is an exciting prospect, but it can pose certain challenges to the criminal justice system," Grieve said today.

"In days gone by, it was only the mainstream media that had the opportunity to bring information relating to a court case to such a large group of people that it could put a court case at risk. That is no longer the case, and is why I have decided to publish the advisories that I have previously only issued to the media."

Grieve said it was not about telling people what they should be talking about, but just about stopping people from "inadvertently breaking the law" and making sure that people were tried on the evidence presented in court, not what could be read online.

Social media, particularly Twitter, has run afoul of a number of legal cases recently. Police are investigating Geldof's tweets over concerns that they identified people who should have been protected. The HM Courts and Tribunals Service mistakenly published their names online, which were then picked up and published on Twitter.

Last year, several people were fined for tweets that named a woman raped by footballer Ched Evans in a case that generated thousands of posts on Twitter. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.