UK Twitter Case Could Have Impact on US

Thursday, 26 May 2011 02:07 PM

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The 200-million-user social networking site Twitter poses a very real threat to the judicial process in Britain, suggests BBC News. Current legal rulings and proceedings in there ould set a precedent, and raise the question of whether the outcome will influence how social networking is handled in courts worldwide.

Although audio and video recordings are not allowed in British courts, smartphones have not been banned, and the nation’s top judge even cleared their usage.

In his ruling, the lord chief justice said: "The use of an unobtrusive, handheld, virtually silent piece of modern equipment for the purposes of simultaneous reporting of proceedings to the outside world as they unfold in court is generally unlikely to interfere with the proper administration of justice."

Trials easily could be compromised via Twitter and similar websites by anyone with an Internet connection, or even put crime victims in danger if their names are revealed, suggest the BBC.

“There are potential pitfalls,” writes BBC News. “Journalists and ordinary people in the public gallery are party to information that the jury may have been prevented from hearing. The danger of a trial being seriously prejudiced is obvious.”

Information conveyed via Twitter was first allowed in a British court during the extradition hearing for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The issue exploded into the media this week when U.K. soccer player Ryan Giggs sued Twitter and “persons unknown” after he was outed by tens of thousands of users for an alleged affair.




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