The leading phone hacking campaigner and Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson MP has announced that he is standing down as an MP. Meanwhile Byline Investigates reports that twelve editors at The Sun have been accused at the High Court of phone hacking and commissioning illegal private investigators. The list of names features members of The Sun’s leadership team stretching back more than 20 years.
The Norton Rose Fulbright Data Protection Report has a piece on decision of the ECtHR Grand Chamber in the case of Lopez Ribalda v Spain ( ECHR 752) in which overturned the decision of the Third Section and held that Spanish shop workers’ right to privacy under Article 8(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights was not violated when their employer obtained evidence of theft from covert CCTV footage of the employees. There was also a piece on the EU Law Live Blog.
On 8 November 2019 the Press Gazette had a piece on the Liberal Democrats threatening to take legal action against the BBC over its decision to exclude leader Jo Swinson from a head-to-head TV debate. The Liberal Democrats have already threatened legal action against ITV over a similar decision. Media Privacy Project Blog had a post “The backroom deal between the Conservatives, Labour and ITV proves it. The UK needs an Independent Debate Commission”. The Conversation had a piece “TV election debates: excluding some party leaders may be legal but adds to toxic political climate”.
Internet and Social Media
Google and Facebook are reportedly considering new rules banning the micro-targeting of political ads. The Guardian had a piece.
The BBC had a news piece “Social media urged to suspend political advertising”.
Instagram has announced it will remove the number of “likes” visible from posts in the U.S. in an attempt to decrease competitive pressure between people, and promote safety and mental health. Bloomberg had an article.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
On 5 November 2019 the Information Commissioner website had a statement informing that it had sent a letter to the political parties in relation to the use of data in political campaigning.
The Council of Europe had a news “International Conference “Personal Data Protection”” held on the 6-7 November in Moscow.
Google’s recent acquisition of Fitbit for $2.1bn has left many users worried the tech giant may soon have access to their most intimate health information – from the number of steps they take each day to their breathing patterns, sleep quality or menstrual cycles. Some privacy concerned users have been posting on social media accounts that they would be throwing their Fitbit in the trash, deleting their accounts or selling it. There was a piece on The Guardian. Mishcon de Reya Data Matters had a post “Google’s latest acquisition: more than just a bit of data…”
The Irish Times had a piece “Data Protection Commissioner investigating micro-targeting on social media”.
The University of Hertfordshire contacted the data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office over a data breach. The BBC had a news report.
Lexology also had a newsfeed piece “Covert CCTV monitoring possible without violating an employee’s Article 8 privacy rights “.
France24 had a piece “Social media: The ultimate surveillance tool”.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
The Council of Europe had a piece “Threats to media freedom and journalists’ security in Europe presented at the LIBE hearing in Brussels”.
Middle East Eye reporter Ian Cobain was refused access to the Defence and Security Equipment International event at the Excel centre in London in September. By submitting a request for data about him held by Clarion (the event’s organiser) and PR firm CMS Strategic, Cobain uncovered emails that appear to show the real reasons for his exclusion. The emails showed in fact that organisers believed he would “not write anything positive” about the event. The Press Gazette had a piece.
IPSO has published a number of rulings and resolutions statements since our last Round Up:
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of any statements in open court or published apologies this week.
Last Week in the Courts
On 4 November 2019 Warby J handed down a judgment in the case of Lord Sheikh v Associated Newspapers  EWHC 2947 (QB) finding that a MailOnline article made a defamatory allegation against the claimant, a Conservative Member of the House of Lords. We had a case comment by Callum Galbraith and Olivia Biggin.
On 4 November 2019 Saini J heard an application in the case of ABC v Google LLC.
On the same day Saini J handed down judgment in the case of Abdulrazaq v Hassan  EWHC 2930 (QB) on the preliminary issue of meaning.
On 6 November 2019 Nicklin J heard the assessment of damages in the case of Chandler v O’Connor.
On 6 and 7 November 2019 the Supreme Court (Lady Hale and Lords Reed, Kerr, Hodge and Lloyd-Jones) heard the appeal in the case of W M Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants. Judgment was reserved. There was a report on the Register. The UK Supreme Court Blog had a post “Case Preview: WM Morrisons Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants” regarding Morrison’s appeal in a data breach claim brought by 5,500 employees. 5RB also had a piece. The Law Society Gazette had a piece “Morrisons will face ‘big number over data breach”.
14 November 2019, Protecting the Media Conference, Hotel Sofitel London St James
19 November 2019 Meet the Centre for Internet and Society, 12:50 – 2:00, Room 280B [£], 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, CA.
20 November 2019 CLSGC Annual Lecture by Professor Fleur Johns – On Data: Givens of Global Law. Arts Two Lecture Theatre, Ground Floor, Mile End Road, Queen Mary University of London, London E1 4NS
27 November 2019, Defamation, Data, Privacy: Shaping the New Law, White Paper Conference, The Caledonian Club, 9 Halkin Street, London SW1X 7DR [£]
28 November 2019, SCL Privacy and Data Protection Group event: Transitioning from GDPR to global compliance, Kemp Little LLP, 138 Cheapside, London EC2V 6BJ [£]
Please let us know if there are any events we should be drawing to the attention of our readers.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
The Guardian had a piece “Geoffrey Rush defamation appeal: $2.9m ‘manifestly excessive’, newspaper say”.
Facebook users in Australia will be able to report fake ads after scammers used unauthorised images of celebrities including Karl Stefanovic, Nicole Kidman and Eddie McGuire. The Guardian had a piece.
A university professor is suing a wildlife park for enforcing facial recognition, in one of the first significant legal challenges to China’s rapidly growing use of the technology, the BBC reported.
The Japan Times had a piece “Lights, camera … cut! Japan soul-searching over freedom of expression”.
A British Indian author and journalist has been stripped of his Indian overseas citizenship after he wrote an article criticising the regime of the country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. There was a piece in The Guardian.
The Committee to Protect Journalists also had a piece “ Indian government threatens to cancel journalist Aatish Taseer’s overseas citizenship”.
The Irish Times had a piece “Pilot tells court IAA apology came 6½ years too late”.
Two books that aim to better inform law practitioners on defamation cases and how tribunals should be managed were launched by the State Courts. The Straits Times had a piece.
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, accused by Virginia Giuffre of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager under the control of sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, has now countersued her in federal court in New York, claiming that her allegations are “lies, disparagement, defamation, harassment” that are “beyond the bounds of decency and not tolerated in civilized society.” There was a piece on the Washington Post.
A federal judge in Kentucky dropped the Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Deb Haaland, New Mexico Democrat, from a defamation lawsuit against a dozen public figures by the Covington Catholic boys, citing federal law granting the lawmakers immunity when acting in their official capacities. The Washington Times had a piece.
Facebook may now be forced to turn over key documents as part of the ongoing investigation by California officials over its privacy practices for more than a year. The Guardian had a news report.
Research and Resources
- More Serious Harm than Good? An Empirical Observation and Analysis of the Effects of the Serious Harm Requirement in Section 1(1) of the Defamation Act 2013, Charlie Sewell, Independent
- The Digital Defamation Damages Dilemma, David Acheson, University of Kent
- Guiding the Blind Bloodhounds: How to Mitigate the Risks art. 17 of Directive 2019/790 Poses to the Freedom of Expression, Forthcoming chapter in Intellectual Property and Human Rights (4th ed), Paul Torremans (ed), Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, Krzysztof Garstka, British Law Centre; University of Cambridge.
- Bringing Coherence to Defamation Law Through Uniform Legislation: The Search for an Elegant Solution, North Carolina Law Review, Vol. 72, 1994, Robert Ackerman, Wayne State University Law School.
- Restrictions on Privacy and Exploitation in the Digital Economy: A Competition Law Perspective, CLES Research Paper Series 5/2019, ISBN: 978-1-910801-29-1, Nicholas Economides, New York University – Leonard N. Stern School of Business – Department of Economics , Ioannis Lianos, University College London – Faculty of Laws; BRICS Competition Law & Policy Centre – HSE National Research University.
- Data-Mining and Analytics: Rising Concerns Over Privacy and People’s Security, Jaisal E.K., University of Hyderabad.
- Rise of the Machines: Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and the Reprogramming of Law (Symposium Foreword), 88 Fordham Law Review 381-404 (2019), Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3478809, Deborah W. Denno, Fordham University School of Law, Ryan Surujnath, Blackstone Group – GSO Capital Partners.
- Privacy vs. Alpha: A Conversation, Apurv Jain, Harvard Business School; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Finance Department; Microsoft Corporation – Microsoft Research – Redmond, Neil Seeman.
Next Week in the Courts
On Monday 11 November 2019 there will be a statement in open court in the case of Rehman v Dunya News Limited,
On the same day Nicklin J will begin hearing the trial in the case of Turley v Unite the Union. The claim form and particulars of claim are available on Lawtel [£]
On the same day the Court of Appeal ((Lewison, Bean and Baker LJJ) will hand down judgment in the case of Euroeco Fuels (Poland) Limited and ors -v- Szczecin and Swinoujscie Seaports Authority S.A, heard 16 and 17 October 2019.
On 12 November 2019 there will be a CMC in the phone hacking case of Various Claimants v MGN.
The following reserved judgments after a public hearing in a media law case is outstanding:
W M Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants, heard 6 and 7 November 2019 (Lady Hale and Lords Reed, Kerr, Hodge and Lloyd-Jones)
Please let us know if there are other reserved judgments which should be added to this list.
This Round Up was compiled by Nataly Tedone who is a media and entertainment paralegal.