The Melbourne Magistrates Court has reportedly made an
order prohibiting publication of material about Adrian Bayley until
18 January 2013, and requiring any negative material about him on
the internet to be taken down. Suppression orders aren't
particularly outrageous, but this one's a bit odd.
To explain, Bayley is accused of the murder of Jill Meagher in
Melbourne last month. In light of some of the particularly negative
online communication about him (and his personal history) the
purpose of the suppression order is to ensure he gets a fair trial.
We think that's fine but we're not too sure about the
effectiveness of the order.
Technically, the Court has the power to order any person to do
or abstain from doing any act or thing. It also has the power to
require any act or thing to be done or left undone. But surely it
occurred to the Court that there may be some issues here. Will
journalists be able to publish information about Adrian Bayley if
they do so outside Australia, or outside Victoria? Does Facebook
really have to take down the groups about Bayley if its server is
outside Australia? The case has received international attention
and there's no way to stop overseas sites from publishing
information about Bayley or to stop people here from visiting those
Still, if local media and social media sites respect the orders,
that will help reduce the prejudice to Bayley at least a bit. But
what has us really confused is the fact that the Court is refusing
to publish the wording of the actual order. It's a little
bizarre that you could find yourself in breach of a court order,
without being a party to the proceedings, and without being given
any notice of the order aside from a Supreme Court tweet (yes, the
Supreme Court of Victoria is on twitter) and some news articles
reporting that the order was made. The net result is that nobody
knows for sure whether the order just restricts future publication
or also requires existing material to be removed, and whether as
reported it applies to absolutely everyone.
If we ever get to see the order we'll let you know but,
until then, just remember that a court in Victoria has made orders
with you, us and everyone in mind. Also, don't join any hate
groups on Facebook.
We do not disclaim anything about this article. We're
quite proud of it really.
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