Law and Media Round Up – 24 June 2019 [Updated]

24 06 2019

The private life of prospective Prime Minister Boris Johnson dominated the press over the past few days after Guardian reported that the police had been called to the London flat he shares with his partner after neighbours heard (and recorded) a “loud altercation”.

Mr Johnson has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the incident and his supporters have suggested that this was a private matter.  The Guardian disagrees and so does leadership opponent Jeremy Hunt.  The Sun says that “lefties” stitched up Mr Johnson but that he was wrong to duck questions.  Meanwhile, the Guardian draws attention to the police failure to provide information about the incident: “Scotland Yard press operation faces questions over Boris Johnson row”.

A poll on Saturday suggested the 53% of voters were of the view that Mr Johnson’s private life is relevant to his ability to be prime minister.  However, Daily Express readers disagreed with 82% disagreeing with the proposition that he should answer questions on his private life as “his private life is private”.

The Council of Europe has published  “Guidelines on Safeguarding Privacy in the Media” [pdf]. These Guidelines target journalists and other media professionals and aim to help with the practical application of privacy standards to individual “ethics related dilemmas”, mainly by referring to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. The guidelines aim to be an instrument of practical advice to media professionals. We had a piece on the content of the Guidelines. The International Ombudsman Institute also had a news article.

On 19 June 2019 ASA upheld complaints after users of a game called “Looney Tunes World of Mayhem” were invited to view adverts for betting companies in exchange for “gems”, tokens used to purchase in-game items. This was held likely to appeal to users under the age of 18. The Guardian had an article. The ASA website published the ruling.

On 20 June the Information Commissioner’s Office published its Update Report into Adtech and Real Time Bidding [pdf] dealing with the use of personal data the real time bidding (“RTB”) process in online advertising. We had a post about this.  Media Post had a piece “Ad-Tech Companies Violating European Privacy Law, UK Officials Say”.

Internet and Social Media

The Government has announced that legislation to place age restrictions on online pornography which was due to come into effect on 15 July 2019 now be delayed for up to 6 months after an administrative error.

Infosecurity Magazine reported that the majority of mobile apps store data insecurely, according to Positive Technologies researchers who discovered high-risk security vulnerabilities in 38% of iOS apps and 43% of Android apps. “But this difference is not significant, and the overall security level of mobile application clients for Android and iOS is roughly the same. About a third of all vulnerabilities on the client side for both platforms are “high-risk ones,” according to the annual report Vulnerabilities and Threats in Mobile Applications, 2019.

City AM had a piece on free speech being threatened by tighter internet regulations.

Data Privacy and Data Protection

The Joint Select Committee on Human Rights has published written evidence submitted to its new inquiry into the right to privacy and the digital revolution which highlights the fact that the public does not know what happens with their data collected by internet companies.  The Committee is conducting an inquiry into the Right to Privacy and the Digital Revolution.

On 19 June 2019 the ICO has released a statement that it has joined the UK Regulators Network (UKRN) as a full member. Membership will also support the ICO engaging with the main UK regulators on specific issues including cyber security.

The legal team of the browser Brave have written to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) with potential evidence that Google’s online ad-selling policies break the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – namely Article 5(1)(f). The Register had a piece on this.

Technode had an article “One year after GDPR, China strengthens personal data regulations, welcoming dedicated law”.

Infosecurity Magazine reported that the highest number of data breaches has been located in California, according to new research from Comparitech.

Surveillance

The Guardian had an article on how the widespread collection of data can lead to self-censorship and discrimination. “The normalisation of these processes also threatens our freedom of expression and association by making it clear that we are being watched. Studies have shown that we are likely to censor what we post on social media or what we look up online when we are aware they are being surveilled.”

The Press Gazette had a piece “Snoopers’ Charter has ‘inadequate safeguards’ for journalists, High Court told

Just Security had an article “When Constitutional Law and Government Hacking Collide: A Landmark U.K Ruling is Relevant on Both Sides of the Pond”.

Newspapers Journalism and Regulation

Byline has published Part 3 of its “Broken Mirror” series about phone hacking and the Daily Mirror, entitled “The Mirror’s top brass are under threat from a long forgotten row with a former employee“.

The Press Gazette had a piece on the Guardian’s fears over a Saudi hacking threat after Khashoggi’s killing. The Guardian also covered the news on its website.

The Press Gazette had an article “Sun ends boycott of Rugby League after reporter barred from Anfield event”.

IPSO

Clause 11 (victims of sexual assault) has been revised after being declared ambiguous. The new clause comes into force from 1 July 2019 and will read “Journalists are entitled to make enquiries but must take care and exercise discretion to avoid the unjustified disclosure of the identity of a victim of sexual assault.” There was a piece on the Press Gazette, and the news was also reported on the IPSO Blog.

IPSO has published a number of rulings and resolutions statements since our last Round Up:

02805-19 Luck v Mail on Sunday, 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge (2018), 2 Privacy (2018), No breach- after investigation

02343-19 Harvey v Bristol Post, 1 Accuracy (2018), No breach- after investigation

07026-18 Tindal v Sevenoaks Chronicle, 1 Accuracy (2018), Breach- sanction: action as offered by publication

01243-19 Haycox v The Sunday Times, 1 Accuracy (2018), No breach- after investigation

Last Week in the Courts

On 17 and 21 June 2019, there was a PTR in the case of Fentiman v Marsh before HHJ Parkes QC. This is a libel claim arising out of a number of online publications.  The Claim Form and Particulars of Claim can be found on Lawtel [£]

On 18 June 2019 Warby J handed down judgment in the case of Birmingham City Council v Afsar [2019] EWHC 1560 (QB) discharging the injunction granted on 3 June 2019 to restrain protests at Anderton Park School but granting a new injunction pending trial.

On 19 June 2019 HHJ Parkes QC heard an application in the case of BVC v EWF. The background can be found in an earlier judgment in the case [2018] EWHC 2674 (QB).

On 20 June, there was the hearing of the final day of the 16th CMC in the Mirror Phone Hacking litigation, Various Claimants v MGN before Mann J.

Events

Please let us know if there are any events which we should be drawing to the attention of our readers.

Media Law in Other Jurisdictions

Albania

The CPJ blog had a post “Press freedom situation worsening in Albania, joint mission finds”.

Australia

Malcolm Turnbull’s publisher has been denied a defamation insurance policy over fears the political memoir will trigger a slew of defamation claims. There was an article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Canada

CBC reported “Randy Hillier denies defamation allegations in lawsuit from Doug Ford’s chief of staff”.

India

Bangladesh’s ex-premier and opposition BNP chief Khaleda Zia, was granted by the high a six-month bail in two defamation cases. However, she cannot be released from jail as she has been convicted in two other cases. There was a piece on the Deccan Herald.

Russia

The Moscow Times reported that Putin has signed a law that introduces fines for the unauthorized production or distribution of foreign print media.

Scotland

Commonspace had a post “Post Legislative Scrutiny – Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 – Submission from Common Weal”.

South Africa

EFF has attempted to appeal the decision of Johannesburg High Court in the case of case of Trevor Andrew Manual (Manuel) versus the EFF and others (the EFF).

EFF was unsuccessful, with the result being that the previous decision remains in full force and effect. The case has been significant as it acknowledges that statements made on social media, given their potentially wide coverage, amount to publications in their own right and that, consequently, such statements can be defamatory. Business Day had an article on the case.

Trinidad & Tobago

Under pressure from the public, the government has not been able to pass a controversial amendment to the Freedom of Information Act. Under the current Act, members of the public seeking to access information held by public authorities, file a FOIA request and are supposed to receive a response within 30 days. The proposed amendment would have extended the allowable response time to 90 days. Global Voices had an article.

United States

The father of a victim of the massacre at Sandy Hook, has won a defamation suit against the authors of a book called Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, purporting a series of false claims. The news is widely covered in the international media, including an article on the Guardian, the Independent, ABC News.

The Hollywood Reporter had a piece “Russian Communists Call for Banning HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’”.

In the case Mobley v. State, the Georgia Supreme Court could rule that the data contained in the “black box” of a vehicle can’t be extracted without a warrant, including what Fourth Amendment protections can be expected against unjustified access by law enforcement. ACLU had a post on its blog.

 The Washington Post had an article “The Technology 202: Big Tech’s legal shield is increasingly in jeopardy with this Republican bill”. The bill targets Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and it would remove tech companies’ protection from liability for third-party content on their platform.

Research and Resources

Next Week in the Courts 

[UpdateOn 24 June 2019 Nicklin J will hear an application in the case of Zaffar v Khan.

On the same day Warby J will hand down a judgment in the case of Birmingham City Council v Afsar.

We are not aware of any media law cases listed next week.  Please let us know if there are any cases we should be noting.

Judgments

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

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

Sadik v Sadik, heard 2 April 2019 (Julian Knowles J).

Morgan v Times Newspapers Ltd, heard 13 May 2019 (Soole J).

Various Claimants v MGN Ltd, heard 5-6 June 2019 (Mann J)

Please let us know if there are any reserved judgments which should be added to this list.

This Round Up was compiled by Nataly Tedone, an LPC student with a particular interest in media law


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