Twitter and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) users will be issued warning notes to reserve their comments on high profile cases that can cause prejudices, the Attorney General announced. Dominic Grieve QC will send court advisory notes to ramp up the contempt laws, which were earlier only reserved for the mainstream media.
Notes to FB, Twitter would ensure fair trial of cases
The notice will warn the users that they might be breaching the law unknowingly by commenting on the cases online. Though internet users have been in the ambit of Contempt laws, it has been difficult to enforce the laws upon them, says a report from The Telegraph.
Last year, Lord Justice Leveson said that the internet was a “megaphone for gossip” and warned against “trial by Twitter” as he called for new laws to curb “mob rule,” last year.
Grieve, who is a chief legal advisor to the government, said that the notes are prepared to ensure that fair trials are taking place. Also, the policy has been changed to contain public comments on court cases in a biased manner.
He said that the purpose of the notes is not to direct people on what to talk and what not to on social media; rather it is designed to facilitate commentary in a lawful way. Grieve said that by informing people about these laws, the prejudiced comments on particular court cases would be curbed, which would ensure that cases are tried on the evidence, and not what people see online.
Law beyond mainstream media
The notes defines the matter that could be published and commented, and for the last 32 years these notes have been issued to the newspaper and broadcasters on a “not for publication” basis.
Grieve added that until now, only the mainstream media was able to publish such matters related to court cases that could risk the cases being tried in court, but now this does not apply owing to the wide reach of the internet, and so it was decided to publish advisories that were previously issued only to the media.
Mr. Grieve said, “Blogs and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook mean that individuals can now reach thousands of people with a single tweet or post,” and added “This is an exciting prospect, but it can pose certain challenges to the criminal justice system.”