High Court issues first-ever Twitter injunction

The High Court in London has handed down what's believed to be the first-ever injunction banning the publication of information on Twitter or Facebook.

Sitting in the Court of Protection, Mr Justice Baker issued the gagging order, which applies to "social network or media including Twitter or Facebook", as well as conventional media.

The injunction concerns the case of a woman, who can be identified only as 'M', who has been in a "minimally conscious state" since suffering from a swelling of the brain stem in 2003, causing serious brain damage.

Her mother applied to the court to prevent the media from identifying individuals from a list of 65 people including the women's relatives, as well as staff at her care home, after the decision was taken to withdraw nourishment and allow her to die.

The order also bans the media from naming the health authority responsible for treating M, and from going within specified distances of certain persons involved in the case.

The specific mention of Twitter in connection with the ban comes after an unnamed Twit used the micro-blogging site to name individuals alleged to have obtained so-called 'superinjunctions' which not only ban the media from reporting allegations about their personal lives, but prevent them from reporting even the existence of the ban.

But as thinq_ speculated earlier this week, legal observers believe the ban could be difficult to enforce. Injunctions aimed at preventing disclosure via Facebook or Twitter, as in the case of M, pose problems, as both companies are based in the US and beyond the jurisdiction of UK courts, making it difficult for a court to discover the identity of any culprit.