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Observations On the Contrary

How the unmanageability of the internet might play out

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 22 September 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5190

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Tony Delamothe, deputy editor, BMJ
  1. tdelamothe{at}

    For a vision of the future, think WikiLeaks plus the British tabloid press

    The motion being debated was “The private lives of public figures deserve more protection from the press,” and Max Mosley, former Formula One boss, was describing the devastating effects of the News of the World’s revelations about his sex life.

    Although he’d won his legal case against the newspaper for breaching his privacy, two years later Mosley was still trying to get some of the offending material removed from the internet. Policing the internet, commiserated fellow debater Rachel Atkins, was “unmanageable.”

    This was a revealing admission from a partner of Schillings, a legal firm that includes reputation management among its offerings. Seeking injunctions, and “superinjunctions,” to stop publication of stories about its celebrity clients is its stock in trade. If allegations do escape into the public domain, quick legal action can dissuade other newspapers from repeating them. But on the internet it can be hard to locate a stable door, let alone close …

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