Now mobile friendly
Site thumbnail

Hover mouse to enlarge

The High Court has recently handed down a decision conerning anonymity of a blogger. The case concerned a police office who wrote a blog about his work, but did so anonymously. A journalist from the Times Newspaper worked out the identity of the police officer, using information publicly available, mainly on the Internet. The blogger sought to restrain the Times Newspaper from publishing his identity, arguing that there was a duty of confidence and that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of the information that he was the author of the blog. Both arguments were rejected, the test for whether either the right to object to disclosure of private information or to breach of privacy being an objective test. Eady J, relying on the approach in Mahmood v Galloway (which concerned the unmasking of an undercover journalist) argued that the author could not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, even though he took steps to preserve his anonymity, as blogging is an essentially public activity. As regards the argument based on confidence, Eady J held that the identity of the blogger did not have the necessary quality of confidence, as required since Coco v A N Clark (Engineers) Ltd [1969] RPC 41. Many bloggers may rely on the protection offered by technology, which may not be as complete as they thought; it now seems that the law will not make up for any such gaps (in the ansence of a breach of confidence). This case may give some anonymous bloggers pause for thought where they can be unmasked, and their identity made known, as a result of detective work.