Mr Justice Mann’s judgment in Sir Cliff Richard’s claim against the BBC ( EWHC 1837 (Ch)) was the biggest media law story of the week (and, indeed, of the year so far).
The Judge made the largest recorded award of damages in relation to a single incident of infringement of privacy (£210,000) – plus special damages to be assessed at a future hearing.
There were a range of blog posts commenting on the decision (including three so far on Inforrm)
- Eoin O’Dell on Cearta.ie, “Cliff Richard v BBC, Part 1, Police Investigations and reasonable expectations of privacy”.
- Patricia Londono on UKHRB, “Sir Cliff v BBC: A new era for police investigations?”.
- Robin Callender-Smith on Inforrm, “Cliff Richard judgment a new shift in legal balance between free speech and privacy”
- Paul Wragg on Inforrm, “Why Sir Cliff Richard’s case was wrongly decided”
- Jonathan Coad on Inforrm, “Privacy Cliff’s courageous battle with the BBC brings the right outcome –
Media lawyers lined up to comment on the decision – not always accurately. The Press Gazette considers how national newspapers have criticised the ruling for creating a “new right to anonymity”, lawyers have advocated media outlets be cautionary in wake of the judgment and the claimant, Cliff Richard’s, perspective. It also points out that, in attack the decision, the Sun “outed” the wrong judge.
The NMA has a press release helpfully summarising the press comment on the decision. According to the Guardian “media experts” are alarmed at the consequences of the ruling (based on comments a criminal lawyer and a representative of the Society of Editors). Byline has a piece entitled “Sign of the Times – Thunderer Readers Rebel over attacks on ‘balanced’ Sir Cliff Ruling”.
On 18 July 2018 the Court of Appeal heard the appeal of former EDL leader Tommy Robinson against his 13 month prison sentence for contempt of court. Judgment was reserved. The Legal Cheek blog has a report of the hearing and there was also a report in the Guardian.
The Guardian has a piece about the new culture secretary entitled “Jeremy Wright: cultural man of mystery”.
The Verge analyses recent market moves by AT&T which suggest the telecoms providers may seek to enter the social media market as well as the implications for user privacy this may have.
Internet and Social Media
The LSE Media Policy Project Blog has analysed the on-going debate on whether, and if so how, to impose liability on digital intermediaries. The Blog also considers the impact of blockchain on technology..
The Guardian Blog has considered the impact of social media on the traditional media landscape.
The New York Times has published an article on Facebook’s efforts to curate content posted by users, alleging a lack of sufficient guidelines.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The Verge reports that Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter are partnering in an initiative; the Data Transfer Project. Google has posted on the topic here. The project uses a codebase that enables users to transfer data between the platforms facilitating data sharing in a more-seamless way than the traditional download and re-upload formet.
Lexis Nexis has published an interview analysing the fine to be imposed on Facebook by the ICO for the social media companies’ failure to protect user data from misuse by Cambridge Analytica.
The Brett Wilson Media Law Blog has a post entitled “Independent Inquiry into Childhood Sexual Abuse fined £200,000 for email data leak”
The New York Times has considered how to regulate bots given their functioning and the practical difficulties imposed by regulations.
The IAPP has covered a recent data breach on the Telefonica Movistar’s website which has led to the loss of customer data.
The Hunton Andrews Kurth blog has a post entitled “Brexit White Paper Addresses Data Protection-Related Issues.
The ICO has published its Annual Report 2017-18 which a focuses on the increasing public awareness of privacy and information rights as well as how the ICO looks to make the most of the opportunities this increase interest provides.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has been fined £200,000 by the ICO for a data leak caused by the failure of a staff member to use the correct “bcc” field in sending sensitive emails to individuals who had anonymously submitted evidence to the Inquiry. . This was then perpetuated by use of the “reply to all function”. The Brett Wilson Media Blog has coverage.
The ICO has released a webinar on best practice when reporting data breaches.
Privacy International has released a report: “Teach ‘em to Phish: State Sponsors of Surveillance” reviewing the approaches of governments to providing surveillance equipment to other countries.
Newspapers, Journalism and Regulation
The Journlaw Blog has a post which highlights the legal risks associated with holding press conferences, utilizing caselaw examples to illustrate the perils of defamation.
The Press Gazette has noted comments by Alex Salmond on Russia Today’s sanction by Ofcom following allegations that the Russian media outlet misled viewers.
IPSO has published three rulings from the Complaints Committee:
- 01629-18 Champion v The Sun, breach of provision 1 (accuracy). There was a report in the Press Gazette.
- 03003-18 A woman v The Sunday Life, no breach of provision 2 (privacy) and 6 (children)
- 20360-17 A Woman v The Northern Echo, breach of provision 1 (accuracy). The Committee gave directions about the size of the front page correction. There was a report in the Press Gazette under the headline “Northern Echo runs front page correction after wrongly labelling woman’s 40th birthday celebration at hotel a ‘sex party’”.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
On 19 July 2018 there was a statement in open court [doc] in the case of Roberto Carlos da Silva Rocha v (1) Westdeutscher Rundfunk Koln (2) Associated Newspapers Ltd before Nicklin J concerniing a false allegation of drug use against the Brazilian footballer Roberto Carlos. There was a report on the 5RB website and in the Press Gazette.
Last Week in the Courts
The trial in the case of Piepenbrock v London School of Economics was heard by Nicola Davies J on 16, 17 and 20 July 2018 and is part heard, continuing on 23 July 2018.
As already mentioned, on 18 July 2018, Mann J handed down judgment in the case of Sir Cliff Richard OBE v BBC  EWHC 1837 (Ch).
On the same day, Nicklin J heard two applications in the case of The Hut.Com v Trinity Mirror plc for the amendment of the Particulars of Claim. An ex tempore judgment was given granting permission. A summary of the judgment is available on Lawtel [£]
On 19 July 2018, Nicklin J heard the trial of a preliminary issue on meaning in the case of Zarb-Cousin v Association of British Bookmakers. An ex tempore judgment was given to the effect that a statement made on television was defamatory of the claimant and would cause serious harm. A summary of the judgment is available on Lawtel [£]
Please let us know if there are any media and law events which you would like us to list.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Privacy International has commented on Africa’s Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection and considers the adequacy of the various African regions in protecting individuals privacy and data.
ABC News has covered a Brisbane businessman suing Google, Yahoo and Microsoft following their failure to takedown content for which he had received an injunction to prevent dissemination.
Internet Policy Review has a post on the practice of app blocking, particularly pursuant to illegal activity or court orders. The post also considers the court’s historical approach to blocking orders as well as the cultural and social drivers behind the practice.
In the case of DEI Films v Tiwari 2018 ONSC 4423 the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed a libel action under Ontario’s anti-SLAPP legislation.
Michael Geist has considered copyright reform’s proposed by the Canadian Government and their imposition on free speech and net neutrality.
Following a German Court ruling that Facebook content is inheritable Privacy Europe has an analysis of the case.
The Hoot has an insightful article analysing the Chief Minister of Telangana’s ownership of the Namasthe Telangana and the implications this allegedly has on impartiality of the media and the Department of Information and Public Relations.
The Economic Times has highlighted the Indian Government’s efforts to meet key social media outlet stakeholders to tackle social media misuse. This is likely related to the Government’s proposals to establish a Social Media Communication Hub, which have been widely criticised as having the potential to be used for surveillance.
The IAPP has noted that the use of facial-imaging software to combat fraud has been justified by the Department of Employment Affairs following concerns that the practice infringes privacy rights.
Japan’s data protection efforts have been ruled as adequate by the European Commission, the Hunton Andrews Kurth Blog reports.
Tommy Sheridan is appealing a decision earlier this year to refuse him over £200,000 interest in his defamation case against the News of the World.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago Newsday reports that More FM radio was ordered to pay libel damages of TT$465,000 to contractor Junior Sammy and two of his companies. There was also a report in the Trinidad Guardian.
Following the Carpenter ruling that the individual’s location information is protected by the 4th Amendment, the Socially Aware Blog has analysed the impact of the ruling.
The US Supreme Court case of Jesner v Arab Bank has considered whether victims of human rights abuses can sue corporations and other legal entities for legal violations under the Alien Tort Statue- the judgement and SCOUTUS documents provide commentary. The case involved jurisdictional questions and whether they could be bypassed if the conduct of Arab Bank violated a “norm that is specific, universal and obligatory”. The Court concluded 5-4 that it was beyond their mandate to extend liability under the statue, to do so required mandate from Congress. The ISLA Journal of International & Comparative Law has coverage.
Research and Resources
Data Privacy and Data Protection
- ‘Know Everything that Can Be Known About Everybody’: The Birth of the Credit Report, Jonathan Weinberg, Wayne State University Law School
- Data Protection Law in Singapore: Privacy and Sovereignty in an Interconnected World (Introduction), Simon Chesterman, National University of Singapore (NUS) – Faculty of Law
- Review of Information Sovereignty: Data Privacy, Sovereign Powers and the Rule of Law by Radim Polčák and Dan Jerker B. Svantesson, Claudia Quelle, Tilburg University
- Data Privacy Laws and Bills: Growth in Africa, GDPR Influence, Graham Greenleaf, University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law and Bertil Cottier, USI Università della Svizzera italiana
- Regulation Tomorrow: What Happens When Technology Is Faster Than the Law?, Mark Fenwick, Kyushu University – Graduate School of Law, Wulf A. Kaal, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota – School of Law and Erik P.M. Vermeulen, Tilburg Law School
- The Internet and Human Rights: Access, Shutdowns, and Surveillance, Ewan Sutherland, University of the Witwatersrand, LINK Centre
Next Week in the Courts
The trial in the case of Piepenbrock v London School of Economics will continue before Nicola Davies J on 23 July 2018.
On the same day Haddon-Cave J will hear an application in the case of ABC & ors v Telegraph Media Group Ltd.
On 25 and 26 July 2018 the Court of Appeal will hear the appeal in the case of Kennedy v National Trust for Scotland. The first instance decision was handed down by Sir David Eady on 17 January 2018 ( EWHC 3368 (QB)). We had a case comment from Alex Wilson and Sami Thompson.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings in media law cases are outstanding:
Economou v Freitas, heard 17 and 18 April 2018 (Lewison, Ryder and Sharp LJJ)
Lloyd v Google LLC, heard 21 to 23 May 2018 (Warby J)
Bokova v Associated Newspapers Ltd, heard 8 June 2018 (Nicklin J)
Otuo v Watch Tower and Bible and Tract Society, heard 7 and 15 June 2018 (HHJ Parkes QC)
Seventy Thirty Ltd v Burki, heard 18 to 22 June 2018 (HHJ Parkes QC)
Stunt v Associated Newspapers, heard 19 and 20 June 2018 (Master of the Rolls, Mcfarlane and Sharp LJJ)
Monir v Wood, heard 16 to 19 April and 3 to 5 July 2018 (Nicklin J).
This Round Up was compiled by Suneet Sharma, a junior legal professional with a particular interest and experience in media law.