A federal judge in a criminal trial in Georgia recently issued an order forbidding a reporter for a local newspaper to send tweets during a high profile criminal trial there. The judge concluded that Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure governed. That rule prohibits “broadcasting” judicial proceedings from the courtroom. In my view, “broadcasting” means radio or television, but the Georgia judge applied the dictionary definition, which means “casting or scattering in all directions.” But doesn’t a newspaper article about the trial cast and scatter in all directions, especially when it’s available on the Web? What’s the difference? Is it the instantaneous nature of twitter? The court’s order points out that the rule was amended in 2002 and the prohibition which had formerly used the term “radio broadcasting” was amended such that the rule now reads simply “broadcasting.” The court considered this a significant indication that “other types of broadcasting” be covered by the rule. Or maybe someone realized that television ought to be included as well. The court’s order notes that “It cannot be reasonably disputed that ‘twittering,’ as previously described, would result in casting to the general public and thus making widely known the criminal the trial proceedings.” So here’s my question: Since when is making the proceedings in an open trial “widely known” a bad thing?