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Twitter Users Hit Back At Footballer's Gag

Posted: Sat May 21, 2011 3:17 pm
by falkor
3:09pm UK, Saturday May 21, 2011 ... _Published

The footballer 'outed' on Twitter over affair allegations with Big Brother's Imogen Thomas is at the centre of a stand-off between online users and Britain's legal system.

The married Premier League star is taking action against the San Francisco-based company, alleging that his privacy order has been breached.

The action comes after tweets named several celebrities and accused them of having taken out the gagging orders.

The player's lawyers are demanding Twitter hand over the name, email address and IP address of the person behind the account that claimed to have identified him.

But if the lawsuit is intended to deter Tweeters from spreading the news further – it hasn't worked.

News of the footballer's decision to take action emerged just hours after the Lord Chief Justice declared that social media needed to be brought under control.

He said there was "no doubt" that the internet makes it difficult to enforce privacy orders.

Earlier this month, the whole concept of privacy laws was thrown into chaos when the anonymous user tweeted a list of celebrities who had allegedly obtained gagging orders.

But the list was full of inaccuracies – Gabby Logan and Jemima Khan were both wrongly accused of doing things they hadn't done.

Khan said her life became a "bloody nightmare".

Britain's most senior judge said he's "not giving up on the possibility that people who peddle lies about others through using technology, may one day be brought under control, maybe through damages, very substantial damages, maybe even injunctions".

But how to go about doing that remains to be seen because it's secrecy that fosters speculation.

And it is for that reason the action being brought against Twitter by the Premier League star might be an exercise in futility.

With every legal step, a defiant online movement rallies to subvert it, and now the player's name is thought to have reached at least two million people.

The defendants are listed in the legal documentation as "Twitter Inc and persons unknown".

Experts say the action is unlikely to succeed because US-based companies have no obligation to comply with the High Court in London.