Press Complaints Commission favours newspapers in landmark case
The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) in London has ruled that messages posted on Twitter are not "private."
The PCC, which is a quasi judicial body for the newspaper industry, gave the ruling in the High Court in London when a manager at the UK’s Department of Transport Sarah Baskerville complained that newspapers had infringed on her privacy when they published a series of her tweets.
The Daily Mail and the Independent had published messages from the complainant.
Baskerville said that her tweets were intended to be seen by her 700 "followers", a closed group.
The newspapers argued against the claim and pointed to the fact that the complainant had not tried to place restrictions to the access to her Twitter account.
The PCC said Baskerville’s messages were not private. It said, "It was quite clear that the potential audience for the information was actually much larger than the 700 people who followed the complainant directly, not least because any message could easily be retweeted to a wider audience."
The case could have wider ramifications considering the growing popularity of social networking sites.
PCC director Stephen Abell said the Commission is increasingly being asked to make judgements about what can legitimately be described as private information.