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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

No privacy for pseudonymous bloggers

In a decision released yesterday (available from BAILII here), a pseudonymous blogger has failed in his attempt to prevent his real identity from being revealed. The blogger, previously only known as 'Night Jack', has now been revealed (see also here & here) as Richard Horton, a detective working for the Lancashire constabulary.

(right: this is all you will see now if you go to

The judge in this case, Mr Justice Eady, determined that the claimant had no reasonable expectation of privacy "because blogging is essentially a public rather than private activity". Publication of the blogger's identity did not therefore contravene Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The information relating to the blogger's identity, which was found by the Times after some journalistic digging, did not qualify in the judge's view as having the necessary "quality of confidence" as contemplated by Megarry V.-C. in Coco v Clark. Any right of privacy the blogger might have would in any case be outweighed by a countervailing public interest in revealing that a particular police officer had been making the communications.

Some people write blogs under pseudonyms as a bit of fun, and would not be too bothered if their real identity were to be revealed. Others, however, who perhaps think that they can hide their true identity and write blogs that could be damaging to them if their readers knew who they really were, might want to reconsider what right they have to protect their anonymity in light of this judgment.


Hugo Cox (since there's no point in hiding) said...

And presumably comment-makers won't be able to preserve their anonymity either...

Anonymous said...

...and what would The Times have done, if it had found out, before Saddam Hussein was deposed, the identity of blogger Salam Pax, that intellectual who risked his life with his informative reports from inside Iraq? Would Mr Pax have been able to count on any protection from the European Convention on Human Rights, or indeed from Mr Eady?

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