The Times has paid £30,000 in damages and apologised after suggesting an advocacy organisation was acting as an apologist for a suspected terror attacker. The Times published a story five days after the attack which wrongly claimed Cage had “backed the Reading attack suspect”.
A statement from Rahman Lowe Solicitors, who represented Cage in its libel claim, said it had seen an email to an editor from the journalist who wrote the story raising concerns that “the below article was re-nosed in editing without consulting me to change the meaning of the top line”. The Times immediately removed the article after it was contacted by Cage but did not agree a satisfactory wording for its correction, and the organisation and Begg both subsequently launched libel claims. The Press Gazette and The Guardian had a pieces.
The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom has published a report “Turkey’s journalists on the ropes [pdf]” which concludes that Turkey’s press freedom crisis is worsening amid growing state capture of media, the lack of independence of regulatory institutions, and a new social media law designed to clamp down on the remaining spaces for free comment
Byline Times had a piece “TRUTH DEFENCE SPECIAL REPORT Lawfare in the UK”. The group “Truth Defence” has launched a campaign to reform British libel laws as a threat to free speech and political debate.
Hold the Front Page has an article “Privacy, photographs and the European Court of Human Rights“.
Granting victims and the press greater access to the parole board system will greatly enhance public scrutiny and confidence in the justice system, the Society of Editors has said. Responding to the Ministry of Justice’s Root and Branch Review of the Parole Board System, the Society said that the planned release of black cab rapist John Worboys in 2018 had damaged public confidence in how parole decisions are made and that enhanced access would enable greater public understanding of how the system works. The review, announced in October 2020, comes in the wake of a public outcry following the parole board’s original decision in 2018 that Worboys was safe to be freed. That decision was later overturned by the High Court. Following the outrage, a number of changes have already been made to the parole board system and boards are now obliged to publish the reasoning behind their decisions and grant victims the right to challenge release decisions on violent offenders. The Society said that while changes were to be welcomed, further reform was needed. The Society of Editors had a piece.
As usual, updates on the Coronavirus guidance can be found on the Courts and Tribunal Judiciary.
Internet and Social Media
Facebook has announced plans to share some of the estimated £5bn a year it makes from advertising in the UK with publishers through the launch of a new Facebook News tab on its app. In a blog post, Facebook said it will pay publishers “for content that is not already on the platform” and help them to drive new audiences. The Press Gazette had a piece.
Facebook is to begin removing false claims about Covid vaccines, the company has announced.
It is the strongest move yet by Facebook to prevent its platform from being used to promote anti-vaccination rhetoric. The Guardian had a piece.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined OSL Financial Consultancy Limited (OSL) £50,000 for illegally sending 174,342 nuisance marketing texts.
The Barnetby based mortgage and loans broker, trading as MortgageKey, came to the attention of the ICO as part of its probe into companies seeking to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic with nuisance marketing. Between March and June 2020, the ICO identified a number of complaints about OSL that had been sent to the 7726 spam text reporting service. The ICO’s website had a news.
Mishcon de Reya Data Matters had a piece “Guidance on international data transfers following Schrems II”
The Panopticon blog had a post on the Ministry of Justice publishing consultation proposals for reforms to how cases progress from the Upper Tribunal to the Court of Appeal.
Forbes had a piece “How AI Is Making An Impact On The Surveillance World”.
Microsoft has apologised for enabling a feature, “productivity score”, which critics said was tantamount to workplace surveillance. The company says it will now make changes to the service, which lets IT administrators “help their people get the most” from its products, in order to limit the amount of information about individual employees that is shared with managers. The Guardian had a piece.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
A journalist at the Foreign Policy website Declassified UK has said that he has evidence of being “blacklisted” by a second government department this year. The latest complaint comes after the website accused the Ministry of Defence of having “blacklisted” the site in September 2020 which led the Council of Europe to accuse the government of threatening press freedom. Following the earlier incident, the Society of Editors wrote to the Ministry of Defence seeking clarification that it was not the official policy of the MOD to single out UK news organisations for favourable or unfavourable treatment. Declassified later received an apology by the Ministry following the incident and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed that an independent review would take place into the allegations. The Society of Editors had an article.
IPSO has published a number of rulings and resolutions statements since our last Round Up:
- 12218-20 Faulkner v LancsLive, 2 Privacy (2019), 14 Confidential sources (2019), No breach – after investigation.
- 12103-20 Smith v Mail Online, 1 Accuracy (2019), 2 Privacy (2019), No breach – after investigation.
- 11902-20 Khan v Birminghammail.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2019), Resolved – IPSO mediation.
- 10490-20 Devlin v dailyrecord.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2019, Breach – sanction: publication of correction.
- 08775-20 Bromley v The Spectator, 1 Accuracy (2019, No breach – after investigation
- 06151-20 A Woman v The Sunday Telegraph, 1 Accuracy (2019), 3 Harassment (2019), 2 Privacy (2019), 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge (2019), Resolved – IPSO mediation.
- 01735-20 Downing v The Jewish Chronicle, 1 Accuracy (2019), 3 Harassment (2019), Breach – sanction: publication of adjudication
Permission to Appeal
On 24 October 2020 permission to appeal was refused in the case of Piepenbrock v Associated Newspapers Limited.
On 30 October 2020 the Court of Appeal gave permission to appeal in the case of Millett v Corbyn. The first instance judgment is available at  EWHC 1848 (QB).
On 3 December 2020 permission to appeal was granted in the case of Newman v Southampton CC. The first instance decision is discussed in a post on the Panopticon Blog.
Last Week in the Courts
On 30 November 2020 Nicklin J heard an application in the case of HJK v Persons Unknown.
On 1 December 2020 HHJ Lewis handed down judgment in the case of Nwakamma v Umeyor  EWHC 3262 (QB), heard 13 to 16 July 2020. The claim for damages for libel was dismissed.
On 2 December 2020 Richard Spearman QC handed down judgment in the case of Sadler v Joyner  EWHC 3325 (QB) after the trial of a preliminary issue on meaning.
On the same day Nicklin J handed down judgment in the case of Hayden v Dickenson  EWHC 3291 (QB).This was a judgment on the return day of an interim harassment and privacy injunction.
On 3 December 2020 William Davis J handed down judgment in the case of Stokoe Partnership Solicitors v Robinson & Ors  EWHC 3312 (QB).
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
In Gayed v Abdelmalek  VCC 1814 a man has been awarded $120,000 in damages and $85,000 in legal costs after winning a defamation battle against a fellow churchgoer over Facebook posts branding him a scammer. The Melbourne man launched court action over six Facebook posts between January and March 2018. The defendant in the proceedings initially sought to defend the posts on the basis the comments were true or an expression of honest opinion. He subsequently abandoned the defences and the court’s sole task was to determine the quantum of damages. Judge Richard Smith said “the gravity of the posts and the plaintiff’s social standing in his Church and community require a substantial award of damages in order to convince bystanders of the baselessness of the allegations against the plaintiff”. The Sydney Morning Herald had a piece.
The Sydney Morning Herald had a piece “‘Witty and exaggerated’: Financial Review column defended in defamation case”.
In the case of Zoutman v. Graham, 2020 ONCA 767 the Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed an appeal from the dismissal of an anti-SLAPP motion and the granting of summary judgment in favour of the plaintiff.
The GBC had a report on the hearing in the hearing in the Gibraltar Court of Appeal in the case of Cruz v Financial Services Commission.
The Irish Legal News had a piece “Work recommences on defamation reform bill”.
The Times of Malta reports that Actor and Occupy Justice activist Pia Zammit has lost a libel suit over a front-page story published by it-Torċa last year, linking her to Nazism, based on a picture taken backstage during a comedy production.
Malta Today reports that former Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi has lost her appeal against a decision in a defamation case she had filed against Nationalist Party MEP David Casa over an article published in MaltaToday.
The Nation has a report of the decision of the Court of Appeal in a recent slander case dismissing the appeal by an unsuccessful claimant.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong appeared in court on Monday 30 November 2020 to testify in his defamation suit against Terry Xu, editor-in-chief of The Online Citizen (TOC). The editor of TOC said that he would have complied with a letter of demand to take down the article if the letter had not been publicised in the media. The Straits Times reports that Lee Kuan Yew’s lawyer will be called to give evidence at this trial.
Chun Doo-hwan, who was South Korea’s president from 1980 through 1988 libeled Cho Chul-hyun, a pastor who protested against Chun’s rule and bore witness to the Gwangju Uprising, by calling him a “shameless liar” in his memoir, the court ruled. The 89-year-old Chun was handed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. Protesters, angry that he will likely not have to serve the sentence, egged his car. South Korea is one of a handful of countries in East Asia that has criminal laws against defamation and prosecutes them aggressively. The National Interest had a piece.
President Donald Trump threatened to veto the annual U.S. defense bill unless Congress abolishes a law that protects technology companies from liability over most content published by their users. He called Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act “a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity.” “Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!” Trump wrote on Twitter — one of the platforms shielded from liability. While politicians from both parties have called for Section 230 to be weakened or revised, Trump and others on the political right have long complained that companies such as Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. have tried to suppress conservative opinions. The Trump administration’s wish to alter or even repeal the law has taken on greater urgency since the president was defeated by Joe Biden. Bloomberg had a piece.
Law 360 had a piece “Lessons For Broadcasters From Trump’s CNN Defamation Suit”.
Research and Resources
- A Perfect Storm: Race, Ethnicity, Hate Speech, Libel and First Amendment Jurisprudence, Michael J. Cole, George Washington University – Law School; Vermont Law School.
- Exploration of Various Attacks and Security Measures Related to the Internet of Things, International Journal of Recent Technology and Engineering, volume 9, issue 2, pp. 175-184, July 2020, Debajit Datta, Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), Vellore, School of Computer Science and Engineering, J Dheeba, School of Computer Science and Engineering, VIT, Vellore.
- Privacy versus Convenience: Customer Response to Data Breaches of Their Information, Sumit Agarwal, National University of Singapore, Pulak Ghosh, Indian Institute of Management (IIMB), Bangalore, Tianyue Ruan, National University of Singapore (NUS) – Department of Finance, Yunqi Zhang, School of Finance, Nankai University; National University of Singapore.
- Ocularcentrism and Deepfakes: Should Seeing Be Believing?, Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal, Forthcoming, Katrina Geddes, New York University (NYU), School of Law.
- Privacy Preserving Data Aggregation in Wireless Body Sensor Network, Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on IoT, Social, Mobile, Analytics & Cloud in Computational Vision & Bio-Engineering (ISMAC-CVB 2020), Kunal Kishan Sehra, National Institute of Technology, Mayank Dave, National Institute of Technology.
- A Security Framework for Application Instance Data to Enhance the Privacy in Decentralized Cloud Environment, Vivek V, FET – JAIN (Deemed-to-Be University), Mahesh TR , FET – JAIN (Deemed-to-Be University), Shilpa Das , FET – JAIN (Deemed-to-Be University).
- Consumer Preferences for Personal Data Protection in Social Networks: A Choice Modelling Exercise, Patricia Lorenzo, Compass Lexecon, Jorge Padilla, Compass Lexecon, Alejandro Requejo, Compass Lexecon
- Consumer Protection—Exploring Private Causes of Action for Victims of Data Breaches, Western New England Law Review, Vol. 41, p. 253, 2019, Justin H. Dion, Western New England University School of Law, Nicholas M. Smith,
- A Confusing Relationship between Privacy and Competition Law – A Way Forward for EU Competition Law and Algorithms PricingIndian Journal of Artificial Intelligence and Law, Volume 1, Issue 1 (2020), Arletta Gorecka, University of Strathclyde – Department of Law.
- AI and Human Rights Law, in Florian Martin-Bariteau & Teresa Scassa, eds., Artificial Intelligence and the Law in Canada (Toronto: LexisNexis Canada, 2021), Vivek Krishnamurthy, Harvard University – Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society; University of Ottawa – Common Law Section; University of Ottawa – Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC); Harvard University – Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.
- Privacy in Society: Jewish Law Insights for the Age of Big Data, Kenneth A. Bamberger, University of California, Berkeley – School of Law, Ariel Evan Mayse, Stanford University – School of Humanities & Sciences.
Next Week in the Courts
On 7 December 2020 there will be a trial in the case of Hewson v Times Newspapers.
The following reserved judgments after public hearing in media law cases are outstanding:
Onwude v Dyer, heard 6-8 October 2020 (HHJ Parkes QC)
Wright v Granath, heard 15 October 2020 (Moylan, Singh and Popplewell LJJ)
Sicri v Associated Newspapers, heard 2, 3 and 6 November 2020 (Warby J).
B.C.Strategy UK Ltd v Keshet Broadcasting Ltd & ors heard 17 November 2020 (Saini J).
Please let us know if there are other reserved judgments which we should be listing.
This Round Up was compiled by Nataly Tedone who is a media and entertainment paralegal.