A U.K. judge overseeing a mother’s request to take her daughter off life-support barred media from naming the patient on Facebook Inc. or Twitter Inc., four days after such postings targeted celebrities in unrelated cases.
Although so-called reporting restrictions are common in Britain, the May 12 order from a London court specified the U.S.-based social-networking websites for the first time instead of using general language about Internet postings. The case involves a woman who suffered brain damage in 2003, and attempts by U.K. journalists to cover the story.
A Twitter user posted messages on May 8 claiming a number of British celebrities had won “super-injunctions” blocking publications of information about their personal lives, and gave details of the activities the user said the celebrities were wanted to keep private. Media lawyers said the postings, if left unchallenged, could undermine the usefulness of the injunctions.
Privacy rulings have been on the rise since Formula One President Max Mosley won a ruling in 2008 that his privacy rights were violated by a story in News Corp.’s News of the World about a Nazi-themed sex party. The flurry of rulings brought opposition from Prime Minister David Cameron, who said Parliament, and not the courts, should set U.K. privacy law. One lawmaker estimated as many as 30 of the orders have been issued, with at least four granted within the last month.