The Government’s White Paper on online harms was due to be published on 25 March 2019 but has been delayed. Ministers perhaps have other things on their minds.  A Government spokesman said it would be published “shortly”.

Details were leaked to the press last week with the Mail on Sunday saying that it was “press regulation by the back door”. The Society of Editors duly lobbying the Culture Secretary in favour of “freedom of expression”. There is, at present, no date for the White Paper which is already several months late.

A number of news outlets have reported that Australia is planning to legislate to introduce a new criminal offence of failure to remove abhorrent violent material from social media platforms.

Meanwhile, MEPs have approved a proposed copyright directive including the controversial “link tax” and “upload filter” (formerly articles 11 and 13, now articles 15 and 17).  The text of the Proposed Directive can be found here. [pdf].  The new law was welcomed by publishers but condemned by internet companies. There was an editorial in the Times saying that this was the “Right Direction”.

The arguments against are summarised in a piece on the EFF website by Cory Doctorow The European Copyright Directive: What Is It, and Why Has It Drawn More Controversy Than Any Other Directive In EU History?”  There was a piece on about the reforms.  The Register has a piece entitled “The completely rational take you need on Europe approving Article 13: An ill-defined copyright regime to tame US tech”.

Hold the Front Page has a piece by Sam Peace entitled “Is ‘Cliff’s Law’ the future on anonymity?” noting that there will not be change in the short term but the issue is not going away.

The IPKat blog has a piece on the case of Happy Camper Productions Ltd v British Broadcasting Corporation  [2019] EWHC 558 (Ch) in which a copyright injunction was refused in relation to the alleged copying of the script for a comedy drama.

The same blog has a comment on decision of the Italian Supreme Court on damages for violation of image rights, Scatti rubati: notorietà non significa rinuncia alla riservatezza (Cass. 1875/19).  The Court decided that in the event of unauthorized publication of one’s own image, the economic damage can be calculated by taking into account the price of an hypothetical licence that the claimant would grant for the use of their image.

Internet and Social Media

The Brett Wilson Media Law Blog has a piece reflecting on the arrested of two individuals on suspicion of sending malicious communications to MPs.  The piece is entitled “Twitter and the Malicious Communications Act 1988”.

The Social Media Law Bulletin has a piece on “Social media influencer advertising in Canada”.

Data Protection and Data Privacy

NS Tech reports that an Austrian Court has allowed Max Schrems to continue his civil claim against Facebook, rather than being required to take it to the data protection regulator,

A German Labour Court has ruled that the protection of whistleblower confidentiality does not generally override the data subject access right under Article 15 of the GDPR.  There is a piece about the case on the Data Protection Report blog.

The Privacy Matters blog has a post on the AG’s opinion in the Plant49 case, dealing with the consent requirements with regard to cookies.  There is also a post on the Data Protection Report.

The Privacy and Information Security Law blog has a post on the decision of the EU Parliament to approve the EU Cybersecurity Act [pdf].

The Center for Internet and Society blog has posted a series of comments on the California  Consumer Privacy Act [pdf]

The IpKat blog has a piece by Jessica Banks “Smart watches: a helping hand or sinister culture of surveillance?


The ICO has opened the beta phase of its Sandbox, a new service designed to support organisations using personal data to develop products and services that are innovative and have demonstrable public benefit.

A Kent pensions company has been fined £40,000 for sending 2 million spam emails.  The Monetary Penalty Notice is here [pdf].


Paul Bernal’s Blog has a piece on “Impartiality and the BBC …”

Newspapers, Journalism and Regulation 

The Columbia Journalism Review has a post “Do technology companies care about journalism?


IPSO has published two recent rulings:

Statements in Open Court and Apologies

There was a statement in open court [pdf] on 28 March 2019 in the case of Poroshenko v BBC.  The BBC apologised and agreed to pay costs and damages.  There was an apology on the BBC Website and a news item on the 5RB website.

Last Week in the Courts

On 25 to 29 March 2019 Richard Spearman QC continued hearing the trial in Otuo v The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (previously heard 12-14 March 2019). The matter is part heard

On 25 to 28 March 2019 Julian Knowles J heard the trial in the defamation case of Bull v Desporte.  The Claim Form and Particulars of Claim are available on Lawtel [£].  Judgment was reserved.

On 25 March 2019, the Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal in the case of Greenstein v Campaign Against Antisemitism

On 27 March 2019, the Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal in the case of Monir v Wood.


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

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions


The Sydney Morning Herald reports that One Nation MP Mark Latham has deleted controversial tweets at the centre of a defamation case brought against him by a student cleared of terrorism charges.

The same newspaper reported on trial of the case of Oliver v Nine News which took place before Lee J.  It concerns a broadcast which included the phrase “coward punch”.  Judgment was reserved.

In the case of Hingst v Construction Engineering (Aust) Pty Ltd [2019] VSCA 67 the Court of appeal dismissed an appeal against a finding that the plaintiff was not bullied.  There was a report in the Guardian, “Court dismisses $1.8m bullying case brought by man accusing boss of breaking wind”.


The Edmonton Sun reports that Brad Blair, a former high-ranking Ontario Provincial Police officer is suing Premier Doug Ford for defamation, alleging the premier smeared his reputation for political gain.


It is reported that Bangalore City Civil Court has granted an interim injunction against over forty media houses as well as social media platforms from publishing defamatory statements against BJP candidate and lawyer Tejasvi Surya.


The Independent reports that Google has been forced to reveal the identity of a YouTube video uploader as a garda officer sues for defamation.

The executor of a deceased man’s estate has been allowed to continue defamation proceedings he launched before his death.

It is reported that the main complainant (MC) in the Galloway case has secured a publication ban on her name and identity, after the former UBC professor sued her and others for defamation.

New Zealand

Former MP and radio host Michael Laws is taking the Otago student magazine Critic to court over allegations he was defamed.

Northern Ireland

The BBC reports that a campaign has been launched to get rid of Northern Ireland’s “ancient” blasphemy laws.


A blogger who has taken Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale to court remains “deeply distressed” by her claim that he sent a “homophobic” tweet, a court has heard.

United States

A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that a defamation claim against Inforwars host Alex Jones can proceed against him and other defendants over the Charlottesville rallies that led to the death of protester Heather Heyer.

Hollywood Life reports on court documents in which Johnny Depp alleges that Amber Heard abused him.

The Press Gazette reports that news agency boss Michael Leidig has lost his bid to sue Buzzfeed over a 5,000-word article published by the news website in 2015 which dubbed him “The king of bullshit news”.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts 

On 1 April 2019 Richard Spearman QC will continue hearing the trial in Otuo v The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (previously heard 12-14 and 25 to 29 March 2019).

[Update] On 2 April 2019 Julian Knowles J will hear an application in the case of Sadik v Sadik.

On 3 April 2019 the UK Supreme Court will give judgment in the case of Stocker v Stockerheard 24 January 2019.

[Update] On the same day the Court of Appeal (Longmore, Sharp and Bean LJJ) will hear the appeal in the case of Tinkler v Ferguson (this is from Nicklin J’s decision of 17 December 2018 ([2018] EWHC 3563 (QB)).


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).

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

Bull v Desporte, heard 25 to 28 March 2019 (Julian Knowles J)