The gap between the Internet and the law is sharply revealed by the, as Mark Zuckerberg and other Internet giants gather to meet with government heads today. Bosses of Facebook, Amazon and Google are meeting heads of state to discuss privacy, the law, and the future of the Web at the e-G8 conference in Paris.
The reputation of long-serving Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs, one of the most highly regarded footballers in the game, is in tatters after being named as the footballer behind a super-injunction covering up reports of an alleged affair with a Big Brother contestant -- a super-expensive injunction not worth the paper it was printed on,and the international press.
The Giggs is up
It seems super-injunctions are the latest must-have accessories for top footballers, along with the Mercedes SLR, crap tattoos and a tie that looks like it was tied by a four-year-old. Another Premiership star has taken out a worthless super-injunction, broken this weekend by journalist Giles Coren on his Twitter feed.
Savvy glamour models probably totter around Bungalow 8 with pre-prepared super-injunctions in their Prada handbags. Honestly, affairs with models and reality TV stars are so de rigeur these days, players are going to have to start taking out super-injunctions to gag reports that they haven't squired a reality TV star.
Ironically, the super-injunction furore has drawn more attention to either player than a regular exposé would have done -- that's the Streisand effect in action. The Giggs brouhaha brings the super-injunction backlash to a head, and may be the tipping point for sweeping changes to the law regarding privacy in the digital world. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised that in the wake of the latest super-injunction debacle.
Tweets before the beak
Changes in the law may be on the cards, but as the law currently stands anyone who broke the injunction could find themselves in hot water. Giggs has launched legal action against Twitter to discover which Twitter users had named names.
We imagine many judges wouldn't hesitate to throw the book at the tweeting rabble -- just look at the harsh sentence imposed in the
But Twitter, an American company, is unlikely to hand over such information on the orders of a British court -- that's if Twitter even could identify users: all you need to set up a Twitter account is an email address. And it's hardly going to rescue Giggs' tainted reputation if he pursues such a petty vendetta.
Sarkozy-ing up to the Internet bigshots
Privacy and freedom of speech will no doubt be on the agenda at e-G8. French premier Nicolas Sarkozy opened the conference today, celebrating the Internet's "total global revolution. What has been unique in this revolution is that it belongs to nobody; it has no flag, no slogan, it is a common good." He praised the work of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Eric Schmidt and Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales, all present at e-G8.
But Sarkozy warns that the Web shouldn't be allowed to become a "parallel universe, outside laws and morals". Issues covered by the conference include privacy, child protection and copyright.
France has tough copyright laws in the shape of, a law that enforces a 'three strikes' policy. Web users caught infringing copyright three times can be disconnected from the Internet, similar to the rushed here in Britain.
The conclusions of the e-G8 forum will be presented to its bigger brother, the G8 summit of government leaders, later this week. Do you think laws regarding privacy can ever regulate the Internet?
Image: Gordon Flood