How Twitter Works – a legal opinion

Royal Courts of Justice

Most reasonable people are aware that if you publicly publish something defamatory about someone else that is false, you can be sued for libel. If you lose the legal case, it can be expensive for you in terms of damage to your reputation as well as a financial cost. (Related: the difference between libel and slander in UK law.) And I’d add that most reasonable people are also aware that the same rules on libel apply to all methods of public communication, including online. So, for instance, if you tweet something bad about someone that’s false, they can sue you for libel. Which is precisely what happened in the case of Jack Monroe vs Katie Hopkins, the judgement of which was published on March […]

Continue reading


How can trust help the #PanamaPapers innocents?

The revelations from the mega-leak of data about the financial shenanigans of the wealthy and powerful, dubbed the #PanamaPapers, continue to roll out globally since the eruption last weekend opened up a Pandora’s Box (what some would call an Aladdin’s Cave) of consequences. At the heart of this scandal is 2.6 terabytes of data representing some 11 million individual documents about the business and financial affairs of clients of the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca stretching from end-2015 back to the mid 1970s (that’s 40 years worth of information). The data was leaked to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung who shared it with the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), who subsequently shared their analysis and reporting with 107 […]

Continue reading


Actions and consequences: what will 2016 present?

2015 was a stepping-stone year in the evolution of technology and people’s behaviours, with events that gave us greater insight into actions and consquences. A big one is the thorny matter of balancing the long-held expectation of individual privacy – regarded as a fundamental right in many countries – and freedoms of expression with the requirement of government to safeguard its citizens in today’s world where acts of freely expressing opinion can have dire consequences. Enter plans to enable government to know everything about everyone when they go online as part of the ways in which they believe they will be able to protect citizens. Is that the best balance? And do we have a choice anymore? While we expect […]

Continue reading


Tweeting a joke can be no joke

Reports emerged late last week that Twitter is deleting tweets that copy another tweeter’s jokes. The Verge reports on a writer’s request to Twitter to remove a tweet that used her content (a joke) without permission and thus infringed her intellectual property rights: I simply explained to Twitter that as a freelance writer I make my living writing jokes (and I use some of my tweets to test out jokes in my other writing). I then explained that as such, the jokes are my intellectual property, and that the users in question did not have my permission to repost them without giving me credit. The Verge says that Twitter did the take-down under the DCMA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), a […]

Continue reading


Why Magna Carta matters

Today, June 15, 2015, marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215, a document that to this day is widely considered part of the so-called unwritten constitution of the United Kingdom; and continues to be honoured in the United States as an antecedent of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. While there still are many voices who question the truth of what exactly happened on that day in 1215, and what led up to and happened after it – notably this good ‘reality assessment’ by historian, journalist, author and barrister Dominic Selwood – the fact remains that Magna Carta is widely seen as a foundational event in the development of democracy that we understand […]

Continue reading