The biggest media story of the last week concerned the bid by Twenty First Century Fox to acquire the 69% of Sky plc which it does not already own. The Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, has written to the company [pdf] indicating that she is “minded” to issue a European Intervention Notice.
The Media Reform Coalition have published a report about the Fox/Sky merger and media plurality in the UK. Zelo Street has also published a post about this topic entitled ‘Sky Bid – Enter Gordon Brown.’ We had posts about this by Steve Barnett and Martin Moore.
It was announced this week that Mr Justice Warby had been appointed as the judge in charge of the Media and Communications List. We had a post on this. He is to take primary responsibility for cases involving one or more of the main media torts: defamation, misuse of private information and breach of duty under the Data Protection Act and related or similar claims arising from publication or threatened publication by the print or broadcast media, online, on social media, or in speech. The Panopticon blog notes, with pleasure, the fact that the DPA has taken its place amongst the pantheon of mainstream media torts.
The period for responding to the DCMS Committee inquiry on fake news expired this week. A number of submissions have been published by those who have made them
- NUJ submission.
- The Public Relations and Communications Association
- The Committee on Standards in Public Life
- Himsworths legal
Pakistani pop star Hadiqa Kiani has filed a defamation claim against the Metro newspaper website for publishing reports that Kiani was arrested for trying to smuggle two kilograms of cocaine hidden in two bags of coffee inside two suitcases into the UK.
The Rotherham Advertiser notes that the deadline for UKIP MEP Jane to pay £54,000 each to three Rotherham MPs after claiming in a speech that that the MPs knew about child exploitation in the town but did nothing to intervene has now expired. It is not clear whether Ms Collins has made any payment.
It has been suggested that Pakistani digital network ARY is planning to return to the UK market a few weeks after it was banned by the media regulator Office of Communications (Ofcom) over violation of broadcasting codes.
Internet and Social Media
A federal judge in Illinois has refused to dismiss a case claiming Google illegally collects face geometry scans from photographs taken on its smartphones without users’ knowledge.
The Social Media Law Bulletion notes that, in the case of Palomino v. Facebook the Northern District of California has accepted that Facebook’s Terms of Service include valid a choice-of-law California law provision.
New York City’s Conflicts of Interest Board has issued guidelines prohibiting elected officials from using official social media accounts for political purposes or having their staff draft content for their personal social media accounts.
The new FCC chairman has announced plans to stop a privacy rule that would limit what internet service providers can do with people’s private data. The Hoot has said that this decision by chair Ajit Pai has proved his critics right ‘by backing corporate interests and opposing net neutrality.’
Data Protection and Data Privacy
The ICO has published its first piece of GDPR guidance about consent in the GDPR. The GDPR will introduce a much higher standard for the consent that data controllers need in order to legally handle others’ data. Responses to the consultation are to be submitted before 31 March.
The Cyberlaw Clinic has filed an amicus brief on behalf of several trusts and estates law scholars and practitioners in the case of Ajemian v. Yahoo.
A group of 50 organisations and nearly 90 individual experts have signed a statement against the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposal to ask non-citizens to provide the passwords to their social media accounts in order to enter the United States.
Motherboard has questioned how the Operational Data Analysis Centre (ODAC), a Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) metadata collection and retention programme that has been running for more than a decade and has been declared illegal by the federal court, passed regulatory checks.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
Zelo Street has published a blog entitled ‘Paul Dacre pisses down his leg.’
Former Sunday Times editor Sir Harold Evans has outlined in more detail why he supports IMPRESS and called for the Financial Times, Guardian and other papers to sign up to the alternative press regulator.
Byline Investigations has uncovered payslips that prove that the Daily Mail continued to pay Private Investigator Steve Whittamore after his house was raided and he was convicted of unlawful data theft. Whittamore has also said that it is ‘simply not credible’ that editors weren’t aware of his unlawful methods. Zelo Street has published two posts bout this entitled ‘Mail Bosses in the Dock’ and ‘Mail Editor in Mire.’
The Transparency Project has published its response to the consultation.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court this week.
Last week in the Courts
The trial of Monroe v Hopkins was heard on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 27 and 28 February and 1 March 2017. We had a case preview (which was our most popular post of the year so far) and reports of Days 1 and 2 of Day 3. Judgment was reserved but is expected to be handed down shortly. There was an interesting piece on the case in iNews.
On 1 March 2017, Mann J heard an application in the case of Sir Cliff Richard v BBC. There was a report of the hearing in the Press Gazette.
On 1 and 2 March 2017 Popplewell J heard an application in the case of Stunt v Associated Newspapers which raised data protection issues. Judgment was reserved.
On 2 March 2017 Warby J handed down judgment in Candy v Holyoake  EWHC 373 (QB) heard 23 February 2017.
On 3 March 2017 the Court of Appeal (Lewison, Lloyd-Jones and McCombe LJJ) gave judgment in the important data protection case of Ittihadieh v 5-11 Cheyne Gardens RTM Company Ltd & Ors  EWCA Civ 121. The decision involved the Court answering an “exam paper” of questions about the meaning of “personal data”, “data controller” and “subject access request”.
8 March 2017, “The Bubble Reputation: Protecting, Inflating, Deflating and Preserving it”, Information Law and Policy Centre, IALS, 6pm to 8pm.
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”
28 April 2017, “Conference on Freedom of Expression Online,” Nicosia, Filoxenia Conference Centre, Cyprus
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
The anti-Islam Q Society and the high-profile anti-halal campaigner Kirralie Smith have publicly apologised to a halal certifier to settle a defamation action in the supreme court.
Barrister Lloyd Rayney is in the midst of a defamation case after ten years ago Deputy Sergeant Jack Lee stated that the former barrister was the police’s number one suspect for the murder of his wife, Corryn Rayney, a charge of which he was acquitted five years ago. The police theory that a hitman killed Corryn Rayney has been examined in the trial. The trial hasalso heard the “unimaginable stress and pressure” Rayney was put under as a result of being named the prime suspect in his wife’s murder case. Rayney and his lawyers have also been refused access to material turned up by the Police’s cold case review of the investigation into Corryn’s murder, which they say might be relevant to his defamation claim against them.
A Finnish TV personality has been convicted of defamation, violation of privacy and other charges stemming from his secret recordings of sex acts at his home.
The President of the National House of Chiefs has filed a privacy claim against the Army after the construction of a six story building near his private residence, which had towers and wings overlooking his house.
Actress Datin Maria Farida has filed a defamation claim against a cosmetics businesswoman, who is also counter-suing.
The Maltese Parliament will begin discussing the Media and Defamation Bill in a second reading on 27 March. The bill has proved very controversial. One controversy is whether the Bill is human rights compliant in relation to Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) whose marginal note reads “No punishment without law”. Justice Minister Owen Bonnici has invited the Opposition to come forward with a means of redress for people who filed criminal libel suits years ago and promised that he would consider their proposed amendments.
Daphne Caruana Galizia in the Independent has called the Bill an “act of aggression by politicians against journalists.” The Front Against Censorship has also said that they were reconstituted because of the publication of the bill, which they said “crosses the line on a number of issues connected with the right to freedom of expression.” Book Council chairman Mark Camilleri has also criticised the bill saying the proposed increase in libel fines could ‘cripple smaller media houses”.
Nationalist MP Toni Bezzina has filed a libel claim against Labour Party weekly newspaper KullHadd and its editor for claims that Bezzina fraudulently submitted plans containing a non-existent 31-square metre room in order to facilitate a development application on ODZ land.
A Federal Judge has blocked a California law which protects the privacy of lawmakers who have voted for firearm restrictions.
A defamation claim against online news site BuzzFeed by Cyprus-based tech mogul Aleksej Gubarev for its publishing of an intelligence dossier that alleges Kremlin ties to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been transferred to US federal court.
Research and Resources
- Two years of Suppression under the Open Courts Act 2013 (Vic) [pdf], Jason Bosland, (2017) Sydney Law Review, Vol 39.25.
- Privacy, Freedom of Expression, and the Right to Be Forgotten in Europe, Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Privacy, eds. Jules Polonetsky, Omer Tene, and Evan Selinger (Cambridge University Press, 2017), Stefan Kulkand Frederik J. Zuiderveen Borgesius, Utrecht University – Centre for Intellectual Property Law and University of Amsterdam – IViR Institute for Information Law (IViR)
- Legal Implications of Data Mining: Assessing the European Union’s Data Protection Principles in Light of the United States Government’s National Intelligence Data Mining Practices, Faculty of Law, Stockholm University Research Paper No. 5, Legal Implications of Data Mining: Assessing the European Union’s Data Protection Principles in Light of the United States Government’s National Intelligence Data Mining Practices, Liane Colonna, eds., Beställningar, 2016,Liane Colonna. Stockholm University – Faculty of Law.
- Privacy and the Right to Record, Boston University Law Review, Vol. 97, No. 167, 2017, Margot E. Kaminski Ohio State University (OSU) – Michael E. Moritz College of Law.
- Competing Free Speech Values in an Age of Protest, Erica Rachel Goldberg, Ohio Northern Law School.
- The Freedom of the Judge to Express His Personal Opinions and Convictions under the ECHR, Utrecht Law Review, Vol. 13, No. 1, p. 1-17, January 2017, Sietske Dijkstra, Rechtbank Noord-Nederland.
- Choosing Privacy, Irina D. Manta, Hofstra University – Maurice A. Deane School of Law.
Next Week in the Courts
We are not aware of any media law cases in the Courts this week.
The following reserved judgments in media law cases are outstanding:
Mionis v Democratic Press heard 27 October 2016 (Gloster, Sharp and Lindblom LJJ).
Otuo v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society 8 November 2016 (Chancellor, Gloster and Sharp LJJ).
Lisle-Mainwaring v Associated Newspapers heard 11 November 2016 (HHJ Parkes QC).
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).
Hourani v Thomson, heard 1-3, 6-10 and 13 February 2017 (Warby J)
Monroe v Hopkins, heard 27 and 28 February and 1 March 2017 (Warby J)
Stunt v Associated Newspapers, heard 1 and 2 March 2017 (Popplewell J)
This post was compiled by Georgia Tomlinson who is a researcher.