The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales has issued a document [pdf] of “interim practice guidance” regarding the use of “live text-based forms of communication … from court.” Blogging and tweeting, for instance.
The document generally supports allowing persons to tweet and blog from court to provide rapid reports of court proceedings. Unfortunately, however, the guidance draws a distinction between the “wider public” and “representatives of the media” in a way that may be used to discriminate against citizen bloggers:
[I]t may be necessary for the judge to limit live, text-based communications to representatives of the media for journalistic purposes but to disallow its use by the wider public in court. That may arise if it is necessary, for example, to limit the number of mobile electronic devices in use at any given time because of the potential for electronic interference with the court’s own sound recording equipment, or because the widespread use of such devices in court may cause a distraction in the proceedings.
I find this passage troubling. Today, at least in the Twittersphere, anyone with a non-private Twitter account is on an equal footing with a salaried newspaper reporter with a Twitter account. In fact, there are a lot of citizen tweeters who have many more followers than many newspaper or television reporters with active Twitter accounts.