Google, Twitter And Facebook Warned Over Court Orders By UK Lawmakers

A report undertaken by a panel of UK lawmakers has called upon the help of the Government to address the issue of new legislation should social networking sites refuse to abide by court orders over people's privacy.

Published yesterday, the Parliament's cross-party Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions listed last May's incident concerning footballer Ryan Giggs, who after attempting to keep details of an affair hidden from the public by seeking an injunction, was outed by Twitter users. When his identity was revealed there were over 75,000 comments on the microblogging site.

However, instead of requesting a completely new privacy law, the group has asked for the existing legislation to be strengthened so as to work alongside social media sites, and not against them.

"When granting an injunction, courts should be proactive in directing the claimant to serve notice on internet content platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook," the report stated. "The Attorney General should be more willing to exercise his power as Guardian of the Public Interest to bring actions."

The panel reserved criticism regarding Google's refusal to create technology in preventing material related to court orders from displaying in the site's search results.

"We find their [Google] objections in principle to developing such technology totally unconvincing," said a committee spokesperson. "Where an individual has obtained a clear court order that certain material infringes their privacy and so should not be published we do not find it acceptable that he or she should have to return to court repeatedly in order to remove the same material from internet searches."

Google's own take on things came in an emailed statement: "This is a really important issue for which there are no easy answers, particularly when balancing freedom of expression and tackling unlawful content."

"Google already remove specific pages deemed unlawful by the courts," it said. "We have a number of simple tools anyone can use to report such content, which we then remove from our index."

Source: Bloomberg