This is the twelfth instalment in a regular series from Inforrm highlighting press and case reports of new media and information cases from around the world.  It is intended to complement our United States: Monthly Round Up posts.  Please let us know if there are other cases and jurisdictions which we should be covering.

In the Media

Australia

The Guardian has coverage of an upcoming defamation case of Australia’s tax commissioner Chris Jordan against Sydney Accountant Vanda Gould.

Google has stated it is “running a few experiments that will each reach about 1% of Google Search users in Australia”, the impact appears to remove some media sites from its search results. The Guardian reports. The Sydney Morning Herald has a piece on free speech considering who gets to judge what speech is permissible.

Following the violence in the Capitol on January 6 Junkee has a piece considering the incitement to violence in Australia. Canberra Times has commented on the lack of consistent approach advocated by lawmakers to the misuse of social media in this context. Australian federal ministers have criticised Twitters approach to banning the US President with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg stating he was uncomfortable.

Australia’s domestic spy agency the ASIO has recently launched its first campaign encouraging awareness around espionage laws. The Conversation has considered how the laws expose members of the public to risk- allegedly even for posting on social media.

Canada

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s Bill C-10 would reform the Broadcasting Act removing Canadian ownership of the broadcasting system Michael Geist covers the developments in his latest podcast.

Australian billionaire Frank Giustra has been given leave to sue Twitter over the publication of a series of tweets linking him to the disproved “Pizzagate” conspiracy. Twitter has applied to have the case dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

Hong Kong

Media “mongul” Jimmy Lai has had his bail revoked. Facing charges under Beijing’s new national security laws the Final Court of Appeal said the decision to grant my Lai bail was erroneous. The case has attracted coverage with ABC News and Japan Today commenting.  

Bloomberg has a piece on the rhetoric from media outlets regarding the upcoming Hong Kong elections, highlighting the coverage of the People’s Daily which supports pro-Chinese influence.

India

James Murdoch is commencing a new media venture in India in partnership with advisor Uday Shankar. The Financial Times reports on the move by Murdoch with Shankar who helped build the Murdoch family’s Star television empire.   

Poland

Poland has proposed new laws to prevent social media companies from deleting posts or banning users, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro has announced. The bill could see social media companies fined up to £9.8m for failing to restore deleted posts and accounts. The law would also establish a free speech council with powers to order social networks to restore deleted accounts and unblock users accounts.

Russia

The Russian Parliament has passed a series of bills which could provide them powers to block use of social media accounts. The move has received critical comment from Deadline, the Guardian, NPR and DW.

In the Courts

 Australia

 Bailey v WIN Television NSW Pty Ltd [2020] NSWCA 352- a defamation case concerning an article run on the termination of the employment of the General Manager of a county council. The respondent presented a report of the appellants termination which was alleged to imply that there were allegations of bullying and intimidation which led to the groups decision.

Awad v Tawhidi [2020] VSC 847- A case in the Supreme Court of Victoria concerning a twitter altercation between a cleric and social commentator and solicitor concerning social media posts between them which escalated into the current case which resulted in cross claims of defamation from those involved. The case concerned findings of meanings of the statements complained of.

Curtis v Phillips (Civil Dispute) [2020] ACAT 115- a case concerning a Facebook post which made alleged defamatory comments against the claimant and how they conducted their cake making business. The case considered defences of truth, triviality, reasonable opinion, fair comment and qualified privilege. The claimant was awarded $10,000.00 in damages.

Canada

Zoutman v. Graham, 2020 ONCA 767.  The Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed an appeal from a judgment dismissing an anti-SLAPP motion relating to an action based on a post on a doctor rating website.

South Africa

Economic Freedom Fighters and Others v Manuel (711/2019) [2020] ZASCA 172.  The Supreme Court of Appeal held that the EFF had unlawfully defamed Manuel (ie they published a defamatory media statement alleging he as corrupt and nepotistic without any legal basis at all), and granted Manuel declaratory and interdictory relief.  There was an Inforrm post about the case.

This Round up was complied by Suneet Sharma a junior legal professional with a particular interest and experience in media, information and privacy law.