Wednesday, April 27, 2011

stupid injunctions: Israeli bloggers to be prosecuted for linking?

In a potentially worrying development, Israeli bloggers will apparently be prosecuted for linking to foreign websites that contain information suppressed within Israel.

(Some pro-suppression Israeli journalists have even wondered how to 'prevent the Google search engine from violating gag orders'.)

There was an Israeli court order preventing the naming of an alleged rapist; and U.S.-based Richard Silverstein's progressive Zionist blog, Tikun Olam ("Mend the World"), named an Israeli TV reporter [name deleted].

Then Israeli attorney Chaim Ravia stated that it was 'a criminal act to link to any form of media anywhere in the world which breaks the gag'.

For years (and especially now) there have been problems with British libel law, and with some of the legal injunctions against naming people or institutions accused of crimes; and there has been controversy over the legality of download sites like Pirate Bay (which simply host links to data).

On Have I Got News For You (22nd April 2011), Private Eye editor Ian Hislop pointed out that 'one day a proper case will come along where we need to know what's happening and we won't be able to 'cause of these stupid injunctions' against potential libel.

[5.30pm update]

However, it is worth noting a comment on Silverstein's original name-and-shame post. Raphael explained that:
Even is not a defendant, at least not yet. The law allows a gag order on a suspect's name only until such time that he/she is formally charged in court and then the gag must be lifted.

This supposedly balances defendants' right to their reputation in case the charges aren't followed in court, and the public's right to be informed of legal procedures.
So, actually, I don't see the need to break the injunction and name the accused, but uncharged, person. I still think the ban on linking is silly, if nothing else (because the information is just as easily searched).

Leonid Levin observed that, in the Netherlands,
the identity of the accused is normally protected by the media by only reporting the first name and the initial letter of the last name.... Even after the court verdict, the full name is not always revealed.
Britain considered pre-charge anonymity for alleged rapists; but that plan was challenged as misogynistic (as there were no plans for pre-charge anonymity for alleged paedophiles or murderers).

Personally, I think that's more of an argument for consistent pre-charge anonymity for people accused of these kinds of crimes; but then the discussion is no longer about protecting socially and politically important investigations, or free speech, so it's no longer relevant on this blog.

I've deleted the name of the accused from this post. I don't want to be part of any trial-by-media.

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