Law and Media Round Up – 18 March 2019 [Updated]

18 03 2019

A review by the Digital Competition Expert Panel published on 13 March 2019 has, perhaps unsurprisingly, found that  large digital technology companies do not face enough competition.

It recommended that existing rules governing mergers and enforcement be updated.  The Panel said that action was needed to increase choice and innovation for consumers.

The actor Tina Malone admitted a charge of contempt of court for publishing information purporting to be about Jon Venables, convicted of the 1993 murder of toddler James Bulger.  She was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years.  The Law Society Gazette reports that the Solicitor General has warned social media users to make themselves aware of contempt laws.

Following the right wing terror attack in New Zealand a man in Oldham who posted comments supporting the attack was arrested on suspicion of sending malicious communications.

Zelo Street has a report of the Judgment in a failed County Court harassment case brought by Stephen Laxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) against the Cambridgeshire Police.

On 11 March 2019, three new media law silks were appointed: Adam Wolanski QC, William Bennett QC and Christina Michalos QC – all from 5RB.  There is a news item about the appointments on the 5RB website.

Internet and Social Media

In the case of UFC-Que Choisir v Google (Judgment in French) the TGI Paris has ruled that 38 of the clauses in Google’s “Terms of use” and “Confidentiality Policy” were unfair and hence null and void.  These included clauses dealing with copyright for user generated content.  The is a post about the decision on IPKat

Data Protection and Data Privacy

Infosecurity Magazine reports on the IAPP Data Protection Intensive: U.K. conference in London this week, where privacy professionals and regulators gathered for a session titled “One Year Post GDPR: What Actions Have Been Taken?”.  It was noted that the 206,326 cases had been reported in the UK, of which 94,000 were complaints and 64,000 were data breach notifications. The ICO had increased staff from 380 to 700.

The Privacy Law Blog has a post “What Does Brexit Mean for Data Protection?”

The EFF Deeplinks Blog has a piece entitled “Why the Debate over Privacy Can’t Rely on Tech Giants”.

The Hill has a piece by Jeff Joseph “We need a national privacy law that respects the First Amendment”.

Forbes has a piece entitled “Data Protection Trends: What GDPR and Other Regulations mean for 2019 and beyond”.

ICO

The ICO has searched two addresses as part of an investigation into businesses suspected of making live and automated nuisance calls.

Newspapers, Journalism and Regulation 

The Press Gazette reports that A Sky Sports News reporter won a legal challenge to report the address of the man who ran on the pitch and punched Aston Villa footballer Jack Grealish during a match.

IPSO

The Press Gazette reports that IPSO has rule that Mail Online failed to sensitively handle a report about an alleged murder victim when it published a “gratuitous” video showing him lying on a blood-stained floor.  This concerned the ruling in the case of 07188-18 Jones v Mail Online, 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2018).

IPSO has published a number of other recent rulings:

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

We are not aware of any statements in open court in the last week.

Last Week in the Courts

The trial in the case of Rudd v Bridle concluded before Warby J on 11 March 2019. Judgment was reserved.

The trial in the case of Otuo v The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was heard by Richard Spearman QC on 12-14 March 2019.  Judgment was reserved.

Events

3rd Global Conference of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network, Berlin, Germany, 3-5 June 2019.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Australia

ABC reports that South Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young might be cross-examined about her sexual history during a defamation trial against former senator David Leyonhjelm

Canada

In the case of Lotin v Gregor 2019 ONSC 1510 it was held that defamatory statements made one of the defendants accusing the plaintiff of stealing money in a telephone conversation and a text message and awarded damages of Can$2,000.

French Polynesia

Radio NZ reports that a senior French Polynesian politician is appealing against his conviction for defaming the president, Edouard Fritch.

Ireland

The Irish Times reports that broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan claims she has been defamed in a series of “false” and “malicious” adverts containing her image and name that have appeared on social media.

New Zealand

Chapman Tripp’s Media Law in New Zealand – insights for 2019 publication looks at the changing legal landscape that encompasses all issues affecting social media, entertainment, advertising, broadcasting, digital and analogue media.

The changing scope of this sector means that laws and regulations which have a bearing on the media such as defamation, privacy and competition law are constantly being tested. Expected trends that will unfold in 2019 are:

  • the testing of the new public interest defence for defamation and increased difficulty in dismissing minor defamation claims
  • a more restrained approach to defamation damages awards, with authoritative guidance expected later this year in the Supreme Court’s decision in Craig v Williams
  • a strengthening of the Privacy Bill in response to international and technology developments, and
  • continuing churn in the media industry, within the regulatory constraints imposed by a belief that media plurality must be protected.

Northern Ireland

Republic of Ireland footballer James McClean is to receive damages from a Belfast councillor who defamed him on a popular radio programme.

Scotland

Commonspace has a piece by Nik Williams, project manager at Scottish PEN, arguing that Scotland is closer than ever to defamation reform, ensuring free expression is beyond the coercive control of the rich and powerful.

Singapore

The Straits Times reports that the High Court has dismissed an application by blogger Leong Sze Hian to strike out Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s claim against him for defamation, meaning the case is set to go to trial.

South Africa

The Democratic Alliance federal chair Athol Trollip has won a R250,000 damages award from his former DA colleague and city councillor, Knight Mali, after the Grahamstown High Court ruled Mali had injured Trollip’s dignity and reputation with “patent untruths”.

United States

UPI reports that a New York appellate court has ruled that a defamation claim filed by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos against President Donald Trump can proceed

The Volokh Conspiracy has a piece “Expedited Appeals of Anti-Libel/Anti-Harassment injunctions”

It is reported that Aleksandr Kogan, the academic at the centre of the Cambridge Analyitca scandal is suing Mark Zuckerberg for defamation, after claiming that Facebook used him as a “scapegoat”.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts 

We are not aware of any hearings of media law cases in this coming week.

[Update]  On 22 March 2019 Warby J will hear the trial in Alexander-Theodotou v Kounis.  The claim form and Particulars of Claim are available on Lawtel [pdf] [£]

On the same day, Nicklin J will hand down judgment in the case of Hewson v Times Newspapers.

Judgments

The following reserved judgments after public hearings in media law cases are outstanding:

Kennedy v National Trust for Scotland, heard 25 and 26 July 2018 (Sharp and Asplin LJJ and Sir Rupert Jackson).

Butt v Secretary of State for the Home Department, heard 17 October 2018 (Underhill V-P, Sharp LJ and Sir Rupert Jackson).

Lachaux v Independent Print, heard 13 and 14 November 2018 (UKSC)

ZXC v Bloomberg, heard 27-28 and 30 November 2018 (Nicklin J)

R (on the application of Privacy International) v Investigatory Powers Tribunal, heard 3 and 4 December 2018 (UKSC)

Ali v Channel 5, heard 4 December 2018 (Irwin, Newey and Baker LJJ).

Stocker v Stocker, heard 24 January 2019 (UKSC)

Rudd v Bridle, heard 7-8 and 11 March 2019 (Warby J)

Otuo v The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society heard 12-14 March 2019 (Richard Spearman QC).


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