Europe

Jul 30, 2014

WikiLeaks reveals (not so) superinjunction

WikiLeaks' revelation of a Victorian Court gag order recalls that the overuse of such orders can be defeated by the threat of online exposure.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The penchant of Victorian courts for throwing suppression orders around like confetti came unstuck overnight with WikiLeaks publishing an injunction by the Victorian Supreme Court. Victorian courts have a history of being willing to issue gag orders.

The revelation is reminiscent of the running battle between sites like WikiLeaks, social media, British MPs and UK courts up until 2011. Superinjunctions developed as a legal manoeuvre exploiting the British Human Right Act 1998, which established a right to privacy binding on government bodies, and were frequently used by celebrities anxious to prevent the feral UK tabloids from revealing private information. However, large companies began using them as well, as a superinjunction prevented even the reporting of the existence of an injunction. WikiLeaks was one of the organisations to out the multinational company Trafigura, which had used a superinjunction to prevent mainstream revelations of its dumping of toxic waste in Africa. London law firm Carter-Ruck became notorious for its use of superinjunctions, but badly overplayed its hand on Trafigura when it tried to use them to ban reporting of parliamentary questions about Trafigura, leading to a social media backlash.

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3 comments

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3 thoughts on “WikiLeaks reveals (not so) superinjunction

  1. Keith Kube

    Are superinjunctions designed to prevent those overseas from knowing? If so they appear ineffectual.

    If the superinjunctions are to keep the Australian public ignorant, they may have some success.

  2. Mike Smith

    Streisand forgot what she sang:

    Can it be that it was all so simple then?
    Or have courts gagged every line?

  3. AR

    I wonder how much longer the intertubes will be able to function as a burr under the saddle of power? For all the ‘freedom’ it now offers, can some tekky (Stilgherian, perhaps?) explain what happens when the megacorps which own servers decide the freedom lark has gone too far?

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