The biggest media and information law story of the week concerns the activities of Cambridge Analytica. The story appear in The Observer, The New York Times and on Channel 4 News. A whistleblower has revealed that the company harvested 50 million Facebook profiles and was “pivotal” in Donald Trump’s presidential victory.
The Financial Times reports that Cambridge Analytica is trying to stop an undercover Channel 4 News report in which its chief executive talks unguardedly about its practices. Damian Collins MP, the Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has suggested that Cambridge Analytica may have misled the committee.
On 16 March 2018 Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica but has denied that there was any “data breach”. The Huffington Post has a piece explaining the background to the company. The Register has a piece entitled “Facebook confirms Cambridge Analytica stole its data; it’s a plot claims former director”. The Guardian suggests that this scandal is a huge blow for Facebook.
Professor David Carroll has commenced a claim under section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 and for pre-action disclosure against Cambridge Analytica. A copy of the Claim Form and application can be found here.
On 14 March 2018, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee questioned the Secretary of State, Matt Hancock, as part of its “Fake News” inquiry. He was questioned about the Government’s decision to cancel Leveson Part 2.
The Press Gazette has highlighted comments made by Sir Brian Leveson following the recent rejection of a legal challenge blocking the publication of the decision made by a parole board to release John Worboys. The case concerns Rule 25, a law which came into force in November 2016 which prevents the details of parole board decisions being made available to the public.
The Brett Wilson Media Law Blog considers the Ministry of Justice statistics on privacy injunctions and analyses what the figures may indicate for claimants.
The Infolawcentre Blog charts the recent progression of freedom of expression laws with insight from Queen Mary University Professor Dr David Goldberg.
Internet and Social Media
The Register reports that the WHOIS domain database is on the very of collapse as a result of the GDPR.
Considering the application of cryptology to law Stanford’s Cyberlaw blog reviews the practice and its application to technological policy debates.
The Standford Cyberlaw blog has noted California’s legislative attempts to safeguard net neutrality rules in two posts.
The Socially aware blog uses the recent case of Herrick v. Grindr in the Southern District of New York to discuss section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which provides legal protections enabling social media companies to avoid liability based on the wrongdoing of their users on the platform itself.
Pogowasright notes the development of the CLOUD Act, a bipartisan bill proposing the regulation of cross-border data access. The outlet also considers a recent case on the misuse of phone data in the course of investigations by officials. The case involves the investigation of Graham Dwyer in the murder of Elaine O’Hara.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The Press Association has commented on the clauses Data Protection Bill, covered by the Press Gazette, this focuses on liability resulting from data protection breaches.
The IAPP has an engaging article on Uber’s use and recent release of anonymized data for city planning purposes. Fred Jones, Head of the taxi service’s UK Cities Division stated “we want to be a better partner to city planners and regulators, so we hope this data will help give them valuable insights for the future”.
IAPP has also covered the joint implementation of Truata, a programme by IBM and Mastercard which assists companies with complying with the General Data Protection Regulation by analysing the persona data which they process. Given the emphasis on EU law compliance Truata has been established in Dublin being subject to Irish laws. In a similar vein IAPP has noted criticism of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s GDPR Transparency & Consent Framework, which can be found here.
Jennifer Baker, freelance journalist focusing on decision-making in EU legislatures, has been interviewed on The Privacy Advisor Podcast in the context of the GDPR and developing data protection laws.
NPR has a thought provoking article on the privacy issues arising from the use of biometric scanning at airport terminals. This also highlights wider concerns with the use of biometric scanning in other manners.
The data protection regulator has this week launched a GDPR awareness campaign focusing on SME’s.
The ICO has published a statement on the application of data analytics of political purposes focusing on instances in which Facebook data is being illegally acquired and used by third parties. Associated with this ongoing investigation Whatsapp has signed a public commitment to cease sharing personal data with Facebook until such matters are resolved. A copy of the undertaking can be found here.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
The Brett Wilson Media Law Blog has noted the Government’s controversial decision to terminate the Leveson Inquiry and implementation of section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.
In a recent INFORRM post Brian Cathcart criticises the Guardian’s recent support of the Government in its decision not to implement Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry.
Press Gazette notes that ISPO has upheld a complaint by a Scottish actress resulting from an interview in the Sunday Post, notwithstanding the partial copy approval the subject gave to the publication.
IPSO has published a single resolution statement this week and three rulings from the Complaints Committee:
- Resolution Statement 20525-17 Sutcliffe v dailypost.co.uk
- 20614-17 Walker v mirror.co.uk: No breach of Principle 1 – Accuracy
- 20385-17 Hill v express.co.uk: Breach of Principle 1 – Accuracy
- 19719-17 Thomson v Sunday Post: Breach of Principle 1 – Accuracy
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no Statements in Open Court last week.
Last Week in the Courts
On 12 March 2018, Nicklin J handed down judgment in the case of Churchill Ltd v The Open College Network  EWHC 457 (QB) striking out the claim on the basis of the limitation defence advanced by defendant.
The trial in NT2 v Google LLC took place before Warby J on 12 and 14 March 2018. Judgment was reserved. There were reports of the trial on the Register on 13 March and 15 March 2018. There was also a report in the Press Gazette. The Brett Wilson Media Law Blog has a post on both trials.
On 14 March 2017 Sir David Eady handed down judgment in the case of McGrane v Trinity Mirror plc.
On 16 March 2018 Master Fontaine gave judgment in the case of Gubarev v Buzzfeed, (heard 5 February 2018). She ruled that Christopher Steele had to give a deposition for the purposes of US libel proceedings. There was a report by Reuters.
23 May 2018, ‘Joining The Circle: capturing the zeitgeist of ‘Big Tech’ companies, social media speech and privacy’, Professor Robin Barnes (Global Institute of Freedom and Awareness) and Peter Coe (Aston University), Inner Temple, London
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Actor Craig McLachlan is suing Christie Whelan Browne, Fairfax Media and ABC following Browne’s claims that he assaulted and bullied several colleagues after stating that such comments were “dishonest”.
A Belgium court has threatened to fine Facebook up to 100 million Euros for breaches of data protection laws resulting from the social media outlet’s tracking of users on third-party websites. ABC News has coverage.
Michael Geist has rounded off his sixteen post series outlining the case against the Bell Coalition’s website blocking plan with a “Finale” summarizing the key points. The Hugh Stephens Blog has a riposte entitled “The Effectiveness of Site Blocking: It is matter of common sense”.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Ethics and Privacy the results of a comprehensive study [pdf] into Canadian privacy law making 19 recommendations.
Michael Geist also has a post entitled “No Longer Fit for Purpose: Why Canadian Privacy Law Needs an Update” commenting on this study.
The Canadian Privacy Law Blog has published a presentation given for the Canadian Bar Association’s British Columbia Privacy and Access Law Section and the Immigration Section. The presentation focuses on the interaction of privacy and privilege rights engaged by individuals detained at the Canadian Border.
The Data Security Council of India has made a number of comments focusing on data protection and privacy laws in the country, garnering coverage from the Financial Express.
On Inforrm Olivia O’Kane had a Round Up of Northern Ireland Decisions in 2017 in libel privacy and media law.
The Hunton & Williams Privacy Blog has noted the United States recent statements publically blaming the Russian Government for implementing cyber-attacks on the American energy infrastructure. The Blog considers the basis for and implications of the discourse.
Research and Resources
- The Role of the Media Service Act, No.12 of 2016 in Preventing Cyber Defamation in Tanzania, Asherry Magalla, Independent
Internet and Social Media
- The Impact of Application Convergence on Regulation: The Case of Social Media, Natalie Klym, Independent and David D. Clark, MIT CSAIL
- Riding with Rawls: The Ethical Policy-Making Framework that Helps the Law Catch Up with Technology, Makes Social Media Fair and Balances National Security with Privacy, Morten Bay, UNCLA Department of Information Studies
- Harmful Digital Communications in New Zealand: Annual Population Survey 2017, Edgar Pacheco, Netsafe, New Zealand and Neil Melhuish, Netsafe New Zealand
- Social Media Use Relates to Perceiving the United States as More Politically Polarized, Anton Gollwitzer, Yale University
- Hybrid Social Media: Employees’ Use of a Boundary‐Spanning Technology, Chris Archer‐Brown, Falmouth University, Ben Marder, University of Edinburgh, Thomas Calvard, University of Edinburgh and Tina Kowalski, University of York
Data Protection and Privacy
- Search Engines and the Right to Be Forgotten: Squaring the Remedy with Canadian Values on Personal Information Flow, Andrea Slane, University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Next Week in the Courts
On 19 March 2018 Warby J will hear an application in relation to costs in the case of Barron v Collins.
We are not aware of any other media law hearings this week. Please let us know if there are other hearings which should be listed.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings in media law cases are outstanding:
AXB v BXA, heard 12 and 13 February 2018 (Sir David Eady)
NT1 v Google, heard 27-28 February and 1, 6 and 7 March 2018 (Warby J).
NT2 v Google, heard 12 and 14 March 2018 (Warby J)
This Round Up was compiled by Suneet Sharma, a junior legal professional with a particular interest and experience in media law