Sunday, May 22, 2011

Privacy in the age of Twitter

So... the papers seem full of stuff about superinjunctions and Twitter and the current response on Twitter reminds me of the 'I am Spartacus' campaign in response to the throwaway tweet which landed one apparently would-be bomber (after the courts took it seriously) in big trouble.  Privacy laws work where communicating on a big scale is barrier-filled and getting a message out takes effort and / or money.  But, the world has changed.  At least, the world of people with ready access to and ability to create information has changed.

It feels sometimes as if one world is challenging the other.  The judiciary are trying to enforce a world which they cannot get back.  Where you pass an injunction and it sticks.  When the media was filled with professional employers and employees it was far easier to regulate.  Tell the newspapers and the television not to do it, and they'll behave.  The public were easy to keep in the dark because they weren't the content creators, they were passive recipients.  But now - who really makes up the media?  I can sit and publish without any effort.  The costs to me are minimal.  And if lots of others are prepared to join in and repeat the 'offense' then hiding in that relative anonymity seems to open the floodgates to challenging rulings which appear nonsensical.

Gossipping over the garden fence on a global scale.  How would you regulate for that?  How could you regulate for that?  Should you?

Existing in a state of the unknown is one thing.  But, once something is known, you can't un-know it.  There is no returning to a state of 'before'.  Television isn't made of three channels.  I don't have to buy a newspaper to stay informed.  Stop one source and another starts.  It's not necessarily a good thing.  It's not necessarily a bad thing.  But either way you can't pretend that a fundamental change hasn't happened.  Pandora's box has been well and truly opened.  I wonder when the courts will realise and stop trying to close it?  The more ludicrous the situation, the more people will mock.

When will our out-dated copyright and privacy laws be examined in light of now and not in the shadow of then?
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