A whistleblower has come forward highlighting concerns over Google’s acquisition of the medical records of over 50 million patients. Known as the Nightingale Project it involved Google becoming a major player in the healthcare sector with concerns arising over whether customers knew that their data was being transferred to Google.
Byline Investigates has published further details regarding the Duchess of Sussex’s claims against the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday from court documents. This includes allegations that the newspaper exploitedof her father, Thomas Markle and made untruthful allegations relating to the letter she wrote to him.
On 12 November 2019 IP Kat covered the case of Herbay v Hungary, Appl. No. 11608/15 which addressed the issue of whether an employee’s confidentiality obligations trump their freedom of expression rights. The finding was that employment contracts can curtail freedom of expression however, only to a degree.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, represented by Leigh Day, has written to the Prime Minister demanding publication of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report to Russian interference into British politics..
There was a costs management hearing in the libel case brought against Tommy Robinson, relating to comments made about a Syrian refugee Jamal Hijazi who was filmed being attacked in a school playground. The Press Gazette reports on the context of the case.
Bailii has made available the judgment of Warby J in the case of Stunt v Associated Newspapers  EWHC 511 (QB) – handed down on 19 February 2019 ordering the claimant to provide security for costs, an order which was not satisfied leading to the striking out of the case and the withdrawal of the reference to the CJEU (see our post here).
Internet and Social Media
Facebook has released its mid-year transparency report. This covers legal and best practice reporting of the social media giants’ data protection and privacy actions. Government requests for user data have increased by 16%.
In the midst of the coming general election social media companies have been warned to limit political coverage, the BBC reports.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
HawkTalk covers the live issue of using the GDPR to prevent misleading political advertising. The piece considers the recent issue of an edited interview of Sir Keir Starmer MP.
The European Data Protection Supervisor has issued a set of guidelines on controller, processor and joint controller relationships, DLA Piper Privacy Matters reports.
Newspapers, Journalism and Regulation
Hacked Off has a piece criticising papers coverage of the murder of Grace Millane, which incorporated videos of the incident in a manner which is considered to potentially breach IPSO guidelines for intrusion into grief and shock.
Met Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, who resigned over warning editors about publishing leaked US diplomatic cables, has defended his actions, the Press Gazette reports.
LSE’s Media Policy Project Blog has analysed the impact of sensationalist coverage of complex geopolitical issues.
IPSO has released a number of rulings following our last Round Up:
08064-18 Gordon v Sunday World, Accuracy (2019) and Privacy (2019), breach – sanction as offered by publication (correction published prominently)
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
Last Week in the Courts
On Monday 11 November to Friday 15 November 2019 Nicklin J heard the trial in the case of Turley v Unite the Union. The claimant denied making a dishonest declaration when applying to join the Union. The author of the publication sued on told the court it was in the public interest. On 15 November 2019 the Union withdrew its allegation of dishonesty. The case continues and closing submissions will be heard on 19 November 2019
On the same day the Court of Appeal ((Lewison, Bean and Baker LJJ) handed down judgment in the case of Euroeco Fuels (Poland) Limited and ors v. Szczecin and Swinoujscie Seaports Authority S.A  EWCA Civ 1932 allowing the appeal against the judgment of Nicol J. There was a 5RB case comment and a press release from the successful appellant’s solicitors, Mishcon de Reya.
On 12 November 2019 there was be a CMC in the phone hacking case of Various Claimants v MGN.
On 14 November 2019 Saini J handed down judgment in ABC v Google LLC  EWHC 3020 (QB) refusing the still anonymous claimant relief from sanctions. There was a report on the decision in the Register.
19 November 2019 Will the UK be the “Safest” Place in the World to Go Online? (And do we want it to be?), 6.30pm, Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE
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 [£]
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
On 15 November 2019, in the case of Omega Plumbing Pty Ltd v Harbour Radio Pty Ltd  NSWSC 1576 Davies J granted an interlocutory injunction in a malicious falsehood claim arising out of radio broadcasts about the plaintiff’s plumbing business.
In the case of Murray v Raynor  NSWCA 274 the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal against an award of $120,000 made by the District Court. The judge’s finding of malice were overturned. The Court also described the award of damages – for an email sent to 16 people – as “manifestly excessive” and said no more than $25,000 would have been appropriate. We had a case comment on the first instance decision. Sydney Morning Herald has a news article about the decision.
In the case of Park v Choi  NSWDC 660 Gibson DCJ struck out a number of imputations in a libel case in respect of publications written in the Korean language but give leave to replead.
In the case of Young v Racing NSW  NSWDC 662 Gibson DCJ struck out a claim for defamation and negligence claim.
China has passed a new encryption law coming into force 1 January 2020. The PRC Encryption Law changes laws in relation to sale, import and use of encryption technologies, DLA Piper Privacy Law Matters reports.
The German data protection regulator has issued a fine of €14.5m. The fine, issued to real estate company die Deutshe Wohnen SE, was for not having a proper data retention schedule for data in place.
In the case of Swami Ramdev & Anr. vs. Facebook, Inc & Ors. the Delhi High Court on October 23, 2019 held that Indian courts can issue orders to internet intermediaries like Facebook Inc., Google Inc. and Twitter to take down defamatory content published by users on the intermediaries’ platforms on a global basis. There is an article from Indus Law discussing the case which is now under appeal.
The LSE Media Policy Project Blog has analysed the usage of Whatsapp in misinformation spreading and the encouragement of mob violence in India.
India Legal reports on the current progress of the Personal Data Protection Bill 2018 and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. Both Bills are due to be discussed before the end of the Parliamentary session on 13 December 2019 and make critical data protection oriented changes to the law.
The Irish Times reports the case of Higgins v Irish Aviation Authority, a jury has awarded defamation damages of €387,000 to a pilot after the defendant admitted that emails it had sent were defamatory and made an offer of amends.
The Justice Minister has said that he hopes to present proposals for reform of defamation law in Ireland in Spring 2020. Speaking at the same conference Professor David Kenny suggested that juries should no longer be allowed to assess defamation damages.
Quartz Africa comments on how Kenya is looking to implement a new EU-style data protection law.
Research and Resources
- Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019, Nic Newman, University of Oxford – Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Richard Fletcher, University of Oxford – Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Antonis Kalogeropoulos, University of Liverpool – Department of Communication and Media; University of Oxford – Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, University of Oxford – Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
- To Protect Freedom of Expression, Why Not Steal Victory from the Jaws of Defeat? Evelyn Aswad, University of Oklahoma College of Law
- The Internet Echo Chamber and the Misinformation of Judges: The Case of Overestimating Public Support for the Death Penalty in China, John Zhuang Liu, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen
Next Week in the Courts
The closing submissions in the case of Turley v Unite the Union will be heard by Nicklin J on Tuesday 19 November 2019.
The following reserved judgments after public hearings in media and information 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 Suneet Sharma a junior legal professional with a particular interest and experience in media, information and privacy law.