George Osborne’s appointment as the editor of the Evening Standard this week “sparked responses ranging from the humorous to the incredulous“. Dominic Ponsford in the Press Gazette said that the appointment “raises serious practical and ethical questions.”
Ofcom are to investigate Rupert Murdoch’s £11.7bn takeover bid for Sky to see if it gives him too much control of news output in the UK. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley also questioned whether the Murdoch family would be “fit and proper” owners following the phone-hacking scandal. The Competition and Markets Authority are also to investigate the bid.
Katie Hopkins has said she will look to appeal the High Court judgment that found she libelled food blogger Jack Monroe on Twitter. Hopkins said that ‘no evidence of harm was produced in the court’ when Monroe was awarded £24,000 damages. The Shoosmiths website has a post about the case, “Watch what you tweet! ‘Serious harm’ test clarified“.
A parody crowdfunding campaign has been created by spoof new site Southend News Network to raise money for Hopkins’ legal fees. It is donating all the money raised to The Trussell Trust, which runs over 400 food banks. There was an interview with Katie Hopkins in the Evening Standard.
The Supreme Court dismissed an application by the owner of the defunct News of the World to have Tommy Sheridan’s 2006 defamation verdict set aside. The permission to appeal decision can be found here.
Journalist and Africa analyst Martin Plaut in the Information Law and Policy Centre blog has called for the Commonwealth to take a more robust view on new threats to journalistic independence.
Internet and Social Media
The Internet Policy Review has published an analysis of Australian internet policy.
The Social Media Law Bulletin has examined the issue of whether a state law can prevent a social media site from publicly posting accurate age information about individuals in the entertainment industry after the decision in California.
Germany’s justice minister, Heiko Maas, has proposed a law that could lead to social networks such as Facebook being hit with heavy fines if they fail to remove illegal hate speech from their sites. These fines could be up to $53 million.
The latest post in the Open Democracy series about Human Rights and the Internet has looked at the future of network neutrality during the Trump presidency.
Mark Grabowski has published an opinion piece in the San Diego Times questioning whether there exists a constitutional right to social media after a recent U.S. Supreme Court oral argument which suggested that Twitter’s practice of banning controversial right-wing pundits such as Milo Yiannopoulos could be deemed illegal.
Google has been asked by the UK Government to explain why taxpayer-funded adverts are appearing alongside extremist material on its Youtube video platform. The government and the Guardian have temporarily suspended advertising on the website.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The Italian data protection authority has issued a record fine of 5,880,000 Euros on a UK company operating in Italy for its violation of the data privacy consent rules contained in Italian law.
The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has given evidence to MPs at the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub Committee about the implications of GDPR and Brexit on data protection law and the extra resources needed by the ICO as it takes on more responsibilities under the new laws.
The Hawktalk blog argues that the UK’s GDPR law will not be judged “adequate” if it contains provisions the provisions that made the Data Protection Act inadequate.
The French data protection authority has published a six step methodology and tools to prepare for the GDPR.
The Article 29 Working Party have stated in a letter that they still have concerns about the Data Protection standards of Windows 10 and the personal data which is collected.
A senior barrister who failed to keep clients’ sensitive personal information secure has been fined £1,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Developer brothers Michael and John O’Flynn have sued the Data Protection Commissioner over alleged delay in finalising their complaint alleging the National Assets Management Agency has failed to provided them with all their personal data held by it.
Tony Porter, the government’s surveillance camera commissioner, has said that the privacy of the public is at risk of being invaded on a mass scale without its consent as the collection of big data meshes with proliferation of video surveillance.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
New online ABC figures have shown that The Sun continues to expand its online audience after scrapping its paywall while the Telegraph has seen a decline under its paid-for “premium content” model.
Paul Dacre, Editor of the Daily Mail, has threatened investigative journalism website Byline with legal action after their series that said that the paper knew that a Private Investigator they hired had been convicted of obtaining unlawful data ‘knew’ his methods were illegal. Zero Street has published two blog posts on the subject entitled ‘Dacre Sues Byline‘ and “Mail Bullying – Byline Defiant‘.
In an interview with Muslim News IPSO Chairman Sir Alan Moses has said that he believes that there are issues with the Editors Code relating to discrimination.
IPSO has sided with the Yorkshire Post after a complaint against the paper by Robin Tilbrook, chairman of the English Democrats, who alleged that a story about last year’s Batley and Spen by-election was inaccurate.
A British-owned press agency, CEN, which is in the midst of a libel battle with Buzzfeed has applied to join IPSO to counter ‘fake news’ claims against stories.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court this week.
Last week in the Courts
On 17 March 2017 judgment was handed down in the case of Lisle-Mainwaring v Associated Newspapers heard 11 November 2016 (HHJ Parkes QC). The judgment is presently only available on the Lawtel site [£].
On the same date there was a hearing in the case of PTW v WPT before Lewis J who gave an ex tempore judgment.
We note that, on 27 February 2017, the Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal in the case of David v Gabriel
24 March 2017, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom conference on Media Freedom in Strasbourg, entitled: “Promoting dialogue between the ECtHR and the media freedom community”
4 April 2017, “The Commonwealth and Challenges to Media Freedom” conference at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies
28 April 2017, “Conference on Freedom of Expression Online,” Nicosia, Filoxenia Conference Centre, Cyprus
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Barrister Damian Sheales has filed a defamation claim against The Age newspaper after they criticised his handling of the case where he represented horse trainers Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien in their battle over cobalt charges.
Jennifer Agate in the Hold the Front Page Law Column looks at Yahoo7’s recent $300,000 fine for contempt of court, and the position in the UK.
The president of Surrey Creep Catchers, a controversial vigilante group that says it exposes child predators, is being sued for defamation for the second time in a month after he criticised sting operations on Facebook.
A magistrate has adjourned a lawyer’s criminal libel trial pending a motion to determine whether the charges brought against her are a breach of her constitutional rights.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has testified in a Tel Aviv court in a libel case against a prominent Israeli journalist. Journalist Igal Sarna has been accused of inventing a story that Mr Netanyahu’s wife Sara once kicked the Israeli leader out of their car during a late-night argument.
Joseph Calleja, former editor of In-Niggieza, who filed a constitutional case claiming that his rights were violated in a 1973 libel case, will have his case decided definitively by a constitutional court of appeal in May. Calleja was sentenced to three months in jail and a fine of Lm50 over an article that alleged that former Employment Minister Joseph Cassar had fathered a child with a ministry employee.
In the case of Re Doran (No.2)  NIQB 24 the High Court has found that the decision of the Department for the Economy to publish the names of “natural persons” in receipt of Renewal Heat Incentive Scheme funding was in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has begun defamation proceedings against the BBC over a Spotlight investigation into the killing of Denis Donaldson, a former Sinn Fein official who was exposed as a British spy.
North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo has dismissed reports that he has withdrawn his defamation case against the North West Business Forum.
A High Court has ruled that the spoken word can within the law of libel and not just of slander.
George W. Bush’s former ethics lawyer Richard W Painter has said that Barack Obama would have a good chance of winning a libel case against Donald Trump over his “wiretapping” claims.
A judge in Minnesota has granted the police a search warrant to direct Google to provide personal details about anyone searching for a specific name. The case involves bank fraud in which an unknown party used the victim’s name to wire $28,500 from Spire Credit Union to Bank of America. The credit union relied on a faxed copy of the victim’s passport to verify the transaction, but the document was faked.
The owner of Cal Coast News has said that the website will continue to operate after the $1.1 million verdict against them.
Former NFL player Kordell Stewart has been awarded $3 million in defamation damages after Andrew Caldwell, Catalyst Next and Jarrius Moon were alleged to have spread rumors that Cordell had homosexual relations with Caldwell. Caldwell is a youtube celebrity.
A South Dakota state judge has ordered ABC Broadcasting to face a potential $5.7 billion defamation case claiming it damaged Beef Products Inc by referring in a series of reports to a meat product it sold as “pink slime.”
Research and Resources
- Realising the Right to Data Portability for the Internet of Things, Lachlan Urquhart, Neelima Sailajaand Derek McAuley, Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, University of Nottingham, Students and University of Nottingham
- Privacy Law That Does Not Protect Privacy, Forgetting the Right to Be Forgotten, Buffalo Law Review Vol. 65, No. 3, Forthcoming, McKay Cunningham, Concordia University School of Law.
- Balancing, Privacy, and Mobile Information, Simon Stern, University of Toronto – Faculty of Law.
- Public Interest vs. Private Lives – Affording Public Figures Privacy, in the Digital Era: The Three Principles Filtering Model, University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 19, No. 5, 2017, Shlomit Yanisky-Ravidand Ben Zion Lahav, Yale Law School and Ono Academic College.
- Bullying and the Laws Pertaining to it, GPSOLO, Volume 34, Number 1, February 2017, Jennifer Levi, Western New England University School of Law
- Addressing Cyber Harassment: An Overview of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, Case Western Reserve Journal of Law, Technology & the Internet, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2015, U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-9, Danielle Keats Citron, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
Next Week in the Courts
On 22 March 2017 there will be an application in the case of Brevan Howard Asset Management v Reuters. The claimant is seeking an injunction to restrain publication of a story which it says is based on confidential information.
On 24 March 2017 there will be applications in the cases of Trump v Associated Newspapers Ltd and Eze Group Ltd v Taylor Marshall Ltd.
The following reserved judgments in media law cases are outstanding:
Mionis v Democratic Press heard 27 October 2016 (Gloster, Sharp and Lindblom LJJ).
Lachaux v Independent Print, heard 29 and 30 November and 1 December 2016 the Court of Appeal (Macfarlane, Davis and Sharp LJJ).
Lisle-Mainwaring v Associated Newspapers heard 12 December 2016 (HHJ Moloney QC).
PNM v Times Newspapers, heard 17 and 18 January 2017 (UK Supreme Court)
Flood v Times Newspapers, Miller v Associated Newspapers and Frost v MGN, heard 24, 25 and 26 January 2017 (UK Supreme Court).
Stunt v Associated Newspapers, heard 1 and 2 March 2017 (Popplewell J)
This post was compiled by Georgia Tomlinson who is a researcher.