U.K. Becomes Injunction Junction

British legal measure under fire in the Internet age

If you’ve got a libel suit you want to file, best take the next flight to England. The super injunction is at the heart of a nationwide debate on press freedoms, and more broadly privacy in the Internet age. Most recently, well-known BBC political editor Andrew Marr admitted to ordering a super injunction to try and save his marriage from the news of an extramarital affair. The ironic move has the country’s commentators, activists, and politicians asking, how far is too far in the name of privacy?

The super injunction is a unique legal measure that bars print media from publishing stories on protected subjects, or even on the court order itself. But the outdated practice pertains only to print media outlets, making the Internet fair game for the unrelenting churn of virtual rumor mills. Marr’s recent admission to ordering a super injunction is a rarity, with only a handful of other instances to speak of where the restrictive court order was then later revealed.

Procedurally, injunctions can be put in place in just a few hours of private meetings, squelching damning news from reaching newsstands efficiently. The controversy around the practice was ignited two years ago when a British member of Parliament overturned a super injunction, protecting Trafigura, a global natural resources giant, from ruin after journalists obtained internal memos revealing the dumping of toxic waste in West Africa.

Publish date: April 27, 2011 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/uk-becomes-injunction-junction-131038/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT