» carter ruck ¦ What You Can Get Away With

Via all sorts of places, a video they don’t want you to see on the BBC:

I’m beginning to think that Carter Ruck have changed their purpose to become a performance art collective dedicated to interpretations of the Streisand Effect. Or that they’re a group of Streisand haters who want to see it renamed – perhaps this is a wholly new 21st century phenomenon of corporate culture jamming in an effort to get their name attached to a popular culture phenomenon?

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Many of which may centre around whether they should get a version of the Streisand Effect named after them (the Trafigura Tactic, perhaps, or maybe the internet has a Trafigura Twitter Tendency?)

In short, though, to follow up on last night’s post, Carter-Ruck have now withdrawn their legal proceedings against the Guardian, which now allows the paper to report fully on such matters as Paul Farrelly’s Parliamentary Question on the subject. It’s also turned what might have been a story that was reported solely in the Guardian, Hansard and a few blogs into one that’s exploded across the entire media and has been the main subject of discussion on Twitter and political blogs for the last 18 hours, as well as possibly generating a charge of Contempt of Parliament for Carter-Ruck.

As a (relatively, in internet terms) old saying goes – the internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it. Trying to censor something in one place – and, in this case, going spectacularly over the top and asking for an injunction that blows a giant hole in the Bill of Rights as a side-effect – just means it sprouts up in a thousand others. This time yesterday, very few people had heard of Trafigura – and I still don’t know how to pronounce it – but now their name is attached to a little piece of internet and legal history. As lawyers, it seems Carter-Ruck make great PR agents.

And while you have a moment, please go and sign this petition on the 10 Downing Street website.

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If you haven’t read this or seen this, you might never have heard of the oil company Trafigura before. Indeed, they could have stayed nicely below many people’s radars, just they way they like to be, except for the fact they took their desire for secrecy a bit too far.

Apparently, it’s possible to use the law to stop a newspaper from reporting on proceedings in Parliament, which is the sort of revelation that should send chills down the spine of anyone with a commitment to democracy, debate and freedom of speech. Specifically, it would seem that the Guardian is not being allowed to report on a question being asked in Parliament, so if I was working for the Guardian I might not be able to do this (taking a question entirely at random, of course):

61 N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura.

But, the science of internet communications is about to get some fascinating data points, as we discover just how many blog posts one injunction can generate, and just how quickly it takes from obtaining a court ruling to get your company’s name as a trending topic on Twitter.

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