Jigsaws and Curiosities: The Unintended Consequences of Misuse of Private Information Injunctions

Rebecca Moosavian

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This article examines the unintended consequences of injunctions granted in misuse of private information (MPI) disputes. The MPI action enables successful claimants to obtain injunctions, often anonymised, to prevent publication of a story (or parts of it) that infringe upon their Article 8 privacy rights. This article considers cases such as Giggs v News Group and PJS v News Group which highlight the challenges of MPI injunctions; they may draw additional attention to disputed material, a phenomenon that has been colloquially termed the ‘Streisand effect’. It affords specific attention to the phenomenon of ‘jigsaw identification’ which may result from MPI injunctions that only restrict the publication of specific parts of a dispute, such as the claimant’s identity. It proceeds to discuss three primary reasons for unintended consequences in some MPI cases, including psychological reactance, social countering and the possibilities afforded by new online technologies. The article concludes with a close analysis of the recent Supreme Court decision in PJS where the judicial response was to modify the problem that MPI injunctions seek to address. Changing the purpose of such injunctions, and therefore the outcomes by which their efficacy is to be gauged, enables the courts to justify their continuation in the face of widespread publication of private information. But this reasoning process relies on newly constructed, tenuous distinctions between press/Internet dissemination and secrecy/intrusion elements of privacy, and it necessarily entails some sacrifice of the wider credibility of law.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunications Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


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