L'effet «Streisand» – les blogues sauvent The Guardian

Ce 13 octobre dernier, The Guardian a publié un article dont le sujet était inconnu. En fait, le sujet était connu, mais le quotidien britannique ne pouvait pas dévoiler son information :

Today’s published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.

La nouvelle a rapidement faite le tour de la blogosphère. Plusieurs intrépides Internautes ont été puiser l’information en question sur le site du Parlement britannique (qui jouit de l’immunité parlementaire, une prérogative de la couronne britannique) afin de le diffuser sur leurs blogues. Avant que les avocats n’aient pu réagir, tous étaient au fait des efforts de suppression d’information de la compagnie Trafigura qui, selon le New York Times :

In August 2006, an independent shipping company, Trafigura, paid a local operator in Ivory Coast to dispose of waste from the treatment of low-quality gasoline. The operator dumped about 400 tons of the “slops” — a mixture of petrochemical waste and caustic soda — in open landfills around a large Ivorian city, Abidjan.

Comme le précise The Economist (17 oct, p. 67), il s’agit de l’effet Streisand, nommé en l’honneur de la chanteuse américaine qui a causé une furie dans Twitter et la blogoshère en tentant de faire supprimer des photos désobligeantes. La tentative de censure entraine une publicité corrélative.

En effet, The Economist précise que:

Britain’s libel laws are also under pressure from foreign governments, which are growing frustrated with London’s role as a “libel-tourism” destination. English libel law goes easy on the claimant, assuming that material written about him is false unless the defendant can prove otherwise, the reverse of the position in America. Nor need claimants prove actual damages: potential damage is enough. In 2005 Rachel Ehrenfeld, an American author, was fined £30,000 ($54,600) plus costs by an English court over a book that had sold 23 copies in Britain. In response, American states have passed laws allowing their courts to refuse to enforce foreign judgments if the country’s free-speech provisions are insufficiently sturdy. On October 12th California became the latest to do so.

Despite these pressures, English courts are clamping down harder, granting secret super-injunctions to avoid giving internet rumour-chasers any crumb of information. Over the past three years or so, secret injunctions have spread from the family courts to cases involving celebrities and now companies: Mr Stephens reckons that between 200 and 300 are in force at any time. These days judges lean towards granting pre-emptive injunctions before publication rather than forcing plaintiffs to sue after the story has come out, notes Padraig Reidy of the Index on Censorship, a freedom-of-expression outfit. “The concept of ‘publish and be damned’ doesn’t hold much sway in the Royal Courts of Justice at the moment,” he says.

Ce contenu a été mis à jour le 2009-11-02 à 16 h 05 min.