It has been a quiet term in the media law courts. We have only noted three media law judgments on our Table of Cases this term. We are not aware of any privacy injunction applications against the media and there has been only one defamation trial with a media defendant.
Channel 4 News journalist Fatima Manji has complained to IPSO after a Sun column questioned whether it was appropriate for her to present the news following the Nice terrorist attacks wearing a hijab. The article, which describes the hijab as “a sign of the slavery of Muslim women by a male- dominated and clearly violent religion” has triggered over 1700 complaints to IPSO. Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear said:
“ITN believes the article was in breach of a number of provisions of the Editor’s Code, in particular discrimination, harassment by intimidation and inaccuracy”.
Roy Greenslade discusses the article here, arguing “Freedom-lovers should not seek to impose their preferences on others”. As Brian Cathcart commented on Inforrm, the complaint appears to be a waste of time.
Tom Crone, the former News of the World lawyer, has appeared before a Bar Standards Board disciplinary tribunal. A central figure in the phone-hacking scandal, he is now facing six charges of professional misconduct and could be disbarred.
The Freedom of Speech enjoyed in South Africa is at risk in the rest of Southern Africa, argues Mia Swart. Looking at Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia, she argues that the extent to which journalists are persecuted and silenced in the region has never been this acute.
Michael Geist discusses legal issues surrounding Pokemon Go and augmented reality, suggesting that the technology and legal issues surrounding it are here to stay. EPIC also discusses issues surrounding the game, and are urging the FTC to launch an investigation into Pokemon GO and the app’s developer Niantic.
Facebook has won an appeal against a Belgian court ruling which ordered it to stop tracking logged-out users who visit Facebook pages and other websites linked to Facebook. The Norton Rose Fullbright Social Media Law Bulletin discusses this here.
Three-quarters of people believe victims of “revenge porn” should be given anonymity to bring the offence in line with other sexual crimes. The revenge pornography law does not currently treat the offence as a sexual crime and victims face being re-victimised if a suspect is arrested and charged, say campaigners.
Data Protection and Data Privacy
How will Brexit affect journalists and publishers? HoldTheFrontPage argues that it will not have a large impact from a legal perspective.
The highest appellate court in Belgium has held that the European “right to be forgotten” requires a newspaper to replace the name of a man with an “X” in an article on his 1994 driving conviction. The conviction was expunged in 2006. We had a post about this case by Hugh Tomlinson QC.
The court battles over compelling internet service providers to retain data about their users for law enforcement took another turn this week, with the publication of the Advocate General’s Opinion in the Watson/Tele2 references to the EU Court of Justice. CyberEagle discusses this here.
The Spanish data protection watchdog (AEPD) has launched a first call for companies to start adapting to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will take effect from 25 May 2018. Datonomy discusses this here.
The Hunton & Williams Privacy and Information Security Law Blog discusses whether a general obligation to retain data is compatible with the fundamental rights to privacy and data protection under EU law.
Data about e-mails and telephone calls which is being held by internet and communications firms must be used only to investigate serious crime, the European Court of Justice has been told. The Society of Editors discusses this here.
The French data protection authority has ordered Microsoft to stop collecting excessive data on users of its Windows 10 operating system and serving them personalized ads without their consent. It said the US company had three months to stop tracking browsing by users
Surveillance and Information Gathering
The Government has introduced new limits on the Investigatory Powers Bill to limit the state’s ability to view internet connection records. The Bill is currently going through the House of Lords where new amendments are being debated.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
On 18 July 2016, there was a statement in open court in the case of Lisle-Mainwaring v Lisle & anr before Warby J.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
The Daily Express, which urged its readers to vote for Brexit, is claiming the decision to leave has already provided a welcome boost to the UK economy by boosting property prices. The Media Blog examines their claim here, suggesting that the data is problematic.
The Nottingham Post has made a donation to charity after being accused of a privacy breach in an inquest report about a teenager who accidentally hanged himself. The paper carried a story in March last year headlined “Teenager accidentally hanged himself by hoodie on gate latch, inquest hears.”
IPSO is reviewing its rules after Mail Online declined to defend an article about Tom Cruise written by journalists working on its US edition. It said the story complied with US law and conventions and was outside IPSO’s remit. Roy Greenslade and Peter Preston discuss these developments in The Guardian. IPSO chief executive Matt Tee said:
“When the current regulations were drafted nearly four years ago, it was difficult to imagine the developments that would take place in digital publishing, with some publishers having numerous editorial bureaux across the world focused on different audiences in different time zones.”
Mail Online has been found to have breached the Editors’ Code with a headline which described a woman’s murder as an “Islamic honour killing”. Complainant Miqdaad Versi said the headline was inaccurate because “honour killings” have no basis in Islam.
Last week in the Courts
On 18 July 2016 Sir David Eady heard applications in the case of David v Gabriel.
On the same day, in the case of LFL v QWY HHJ Parkes QC varied the order setting a trial date in a harassment claim but refused to discharge the anonymity order.
On 20 July 2016, Dingemans J handed down judgment in the case of Ghuman v Ghuman  EWHC 1783 (QB). The claim for slander was dismissed following a six day trial. The claimant failed to prove that the words complained of had been spoken.
On the same day Sir David Eady refused a number of applications in the case of Otuo v Morley.
29 September 2016, “Conference5RB“, at IET Savoy Place, Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL, and will deal with current issues in defamation, privacy, Data Protection, harassment, reporting restrictions and contempt issues.
Please let us know if there are any events you would like to be included on this list by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Don Voelte, the former head of Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group, has lost his defamation case against the ABC over a 2014 report on The Business. A NSW Supreme Court jury dismissed Voelte’s claim that the broadcast portrayed him as a traitor who “switched camps” and betrayed Nexus investors.
Rights body Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) has filed a defamation suit against Captain Amarinder Singh for linking the body to Pakistan’s ISI. The defamation claim also seeks a permanent injunction preventing Capt Amarinder from republishing or facilitating the republication of the defamatory statements.
Robin Austin has been awarded $75,000 after the BC Supreme Court ruled he was defamed by Terrace resident Jim Lynch at an all-candidates forum at the Pentacostal Church in April 2013. Lynch had accused Austin of sexually abusing a foster child many years earlier — a charge that Justice Punnett ruled was unfounded, unjustified and false.
Canada urgently needs to update its privacy laws for the 21st century, but the recently passed E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield should not act as a guide, experts have suggested.
A family have again returned to court to seek increased damages against Development Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po and his wife after the couple defamed them by alleging their children had cheated in school. Paul Chan and his wife, Frieda Hui, were found to have defamed Carl Lu and his two children in 2011.
The Hoot examines the government’s decision to block mobile internet services in Kashmir after a violent incident. Internet bans in times of turmoil and unrest are bad for democracy, they argue.
The Supreme Court’s latest judgment, which upholds the criminal defamation provision in the IPC, does not curb free speech, it is argued in The Times of India. The Supreme Court has announced that Rahul Gandhi must face trial over his statement blaming the RSS for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
A High Court judge has granted an unprecedented application by the US government to be joined to a major legal action over whether EU-US data transfer channels breach the privacy rights of EU citizens. Mr Justice Brian McGovern said he was satisfied the US government has a “significant and bona fide interest” in the outcome of the case
A former chairman of the Irish Chess Union (ICU) has filed a High Court defamation suit against the organisation and two of its members. A source in the chess community said the case was about a post on the ICU website that Morriss claims defamed him.
Hoping to further clamp down on what it sees as the driving force behind a 10-month spate of Palestinian attacks, Israel is preparing a law that aims to rein in content on social media, including Facebook, a platform it says plays a central role in inspiring attackers.
A case in which Court of Appeal judge GBM Kariuki sought Sh5 million from the Star for alleged defamation was dismissed yesterday. Kariuki failed to convince the High Court that a story about an attempted murder published by the Star in 2008 defamed him.
Northern Ireland’s defamation law should be brought into line with the law in England and Wales, a report commissioned by the Stormont executive has recommended. Stormont Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir welcomed the report.
“This will help to inform the policy development process as we seek to ensure that a fair balance is maintained between the right to free speech and the right of the ordinary man and woman in the street, to protect their reputation,”
Defamation lawyer Paul Tweed of Johnsons Solicitors in Belfast however, said that the proposals would cause legal costs to “go through the roof”.
Trinidad and Tobago
Former government minister Austin ‘Jack’ Warner has agreed to pay a significant sum of money to his one-time colleague, Suruj Rambachan to settle a defamation lawsuit. In the lawsuit, Rambachan claimed that Warner had made “malicious, reckless and irresponsible” statement against him while speaking at a public political meeting of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) on July 23, 2013.
A post shared by a self proclaimed ‘internet troll’ which appeared to be offering to buy peoples’ votes has been judged to be protected speech. The Info/Law blog discusses the case here.
A debate over whether or not Kim Kardashian broke the law when she recorded a phone conversation between her husband, Kanye West, and singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is developing in the US. The Independent and Rolling Stone discuss the legal issues behind this.
An ‘Invasive’ Snapchat of a teen who later killed himself was illegal, a court has ruled. The video, which showed the student seemingly masturbating in a bathroom stall, was an invasion of privacy. The Guardian discusses privacy on snapchat and the legal grey areas.
Georgia’s Court of Appeals has ruled that taking a photo up a skirt in public does not count as an invasion of privacy. Judges say its up to state lawmakers to fix the wording of the law, which is at the moment misleading.
An infidelity accusation has sparked a defamation suit in Boston. The suit, filed in US District Court in Boston, alleges that a mother and daughter engaged in a campaign to “publicly embarrass, humiliate, and destroy” scientist and entrepreneur Hayat Sindi.
Research and Resources
- The Regulation of Defamation and Insult in Europe András Koltay (Ed.): Comparative Perspectives on the Fundamental Freedom of Expression. Wolters Kluwer, Budapest, 2015, Pp. 487-517, Zoltan J. Toth, Karoli Gaspar University, Budapest.
- ‘Their Evil Lies in the Grapevine Effect’: Assessment of Damages in Defamation by Social Media Media and Arts Law Review, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 367-379, 2015, Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 16/61, Michael Douglas, University of Sydney – Faculty of Law.
- Balancing the Right to Privacy and Freedom of Expression: Re-evaluating Hosking v Runting in the Light of Recent Developments in English Privacy Law Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper, Student/Alumni Paper No. 38/2016, Abby Ward, Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law, Student/Alumni.
- Reasonable Expectations of Anonymity Virginia Law Review, Vol. 101, pp. 691-762, 2015, University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 6/2015, Jeffrey M. Skopek, University of Cambridge – Faculty of Law.
- The New Intrusion Tort: The News Media Exposed? Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper, Student/Alumni Paper No. 36/2016, Thomas McKenzie, Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law, Student/Alumni.
- Cookies vs. Clams: The Clash of Tracking Technologies and Their Implications for Online Privacy GigaNet: Global Internet Governance Academic Network, Annual Symposium 2012, Andreas Kuehn, Syracuse University, School of Information Studies, Students.
- Internet Anonymity, Reputation, and Freedom of Speech: The US Legal Landscape GigaNet: Global Internet Governance Academic Network, Annual Symposium 2011, John Gathegi, University of South Florida – School of Information.
- The Guardian’s Publications of Snowden Files: Assessing the Standards of Freedom of Speech in the Context ofState Secrets and Mass Surveillance, Information & Communications Technology Law DOI: 10.1080/13600834.2016.1203507, Dimitris Xenos, University of East London
Next Week in the Courts
On 25 July 2016, Warby J will hear an application in the case of Bukovsky v Crown Prosecution Service (presently listed as a trial).
On the same day, Sir David Eady will hear a PTR in the case of Bloor v Beresford.
On 26 July the Court of Appeal (Laws, King and Lindblom LJJ) will give judgment in the case of Simpson v Mirror Group Newspapers, heard, 24 May 2016.
On 27 July 2016 there will be an application in the case of Suresh v Samad.
On 28 July 2016, there will be application in the case of Grahir v Bansal.
The following reserved judgments in media law cases are outstanding:
CG v Facebook Ireland Limited, heard 4 and 5 April 2016 (Morgan LCJ, Gillen and Weatherup LJJ)(Northern Ireland Court of Appeal)
Economou v De Freitas, heard 13-17, 20, 22 June 2016 (Warby J).
Begg v BBC, heard 27 to 30 June, 1 July 2016 (Haddon-Cave J)