Twitter and a Newspaper Untie a Gag Order

Noam Cohen reports for the New York Times:

Twitter has been credited with helping to organize political protests and shine a light on abuses around the world. At the same time, the ubiquitous service has been criticized for disrespecting the sanctity of once-private halls of deliberation — whether a criminal jury’s chambers or an N.B.A. locker room.

In the rarest of cases, apparently, Twitter can do both. That is the view of the editor of The Guardian in London, Alan Rusbridger, who, after prevailing in a legal fight over the publication of secret documents, wrote that “the Twittersphere blew away conventional efforts to buy silence,” as a headline on his column put it.

Last month, a British judge ruled that material obtained by Guardian journalists about a multinational corporation had to be kept secret. Unlike other such injunctions, however, the “gag order” applied to the existence of the injunction itself. That is, The Guardian was forbidden to report that it had been gagged.

Thus, we have a Kafka-esque experience that, fittingly, has been imposed an unknown number of times by the courts, according to the British newspapers.” …

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