It is now nearly two months since our last weekly round up. This regular feature will begin again at the start of the Michaelmas Legal Term at the end of next week. In the meantime, the purpose of this post is to round up some of the media and law developments in August and September.
The most noteworthy media law decision of the summer was the decision of the High Court of Australia in Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd v Voller  HCA 27. The majority held that the acts of the appellant newspapers in facilitating, encouraging and thereby assisting the posting of comments by third party Facebook users rendered them publishers of those comments. This was widely reported in the media, including in three in the Sydney Morning Herald
- Media outlets lose High Court appeal over Facebook defamation ruling.
- High Court decision will help clean up garbage on social media
- A judgment rooted in 1928, when the world couldn’t have dreamed of Facebook
At the end of August it was announced that the Sun had settled the privacy claim brought by Ben and Deborah Stokes. We had a news post and an analytical piece by Paul Wragg.
The Press Gazette reports that the Guardian has joined News UK and the Telegraph in making its declining print circulation secret. The last available figures from July showed that the Guardian sold an average of 105,134 copies each day.
Hacked Off has launched a campaign which draws attention to the fact that IPSO has not launched any investigations in the 7 years since it began operation. It has drawn attention to serious univestigated failures at the Times, The Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Jewish Chronicle.
Privacy and Data Protection
The UK Government has begun a public consultation on its plan to reform data protection legislation in the wake of Brexit entitled Data: A new direction. The consultation is open until 19 November 2021. There are posts about these proposals on the Panopticon Blog and the Data Protection report. The Hawktalk blog deals with the proposals concerning research in a post entitled Government’s UK_GDPR proposals for research are unethical and unsafe.
The Privacy and Cybersecurity Law blog has a post “Stretching the boundaries through artificial intelligence: the European proposal for a dedicated regulation. The protection of personal data“.
The Panopticon blog has a post on the recent CJEU decision in the case of Peterson v Google LLC C-682/18 and C-683/18 – a copyright case which deals with the protections given hosting platforms by the E-Commerce Directive.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called for a moratorium on the sale and use of artificial intelligence (AI) systems that pose a serious risk to human rights until adequate safeguards are put in place.
Privacy Matters reports that the Age Appropriate Design Code (“Code”), a new statutory Code of Practice published by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”), entered in force on 2 September 2021 following a one year transition period.
Summer Media Law Judgments
Judgments in six media law cases have been given over the past 2 months:
Ware v Wimborne-idrissi & Ors  EWHC 2296 (QB) (13 August 2021), Steyn J determined the meaning of words in a radio interview and on a website. She held that the words were defamatory of the claimant. There was a news report of the decision in the Press Gazette.
Wozniak & Anor v Randall  EWHC 2341 (QB) (19 August 2021), Soole J gave judgment after the trial of a libel action, finding for the claimants and awarding each of them damages of £7,500. The was a news report about the decision in City AM.
Junejo v New Vision TV Ltd  EWHC 2366 (QB) (24 August 2021), Murray J determined that the defendant had not published the words complained of in the course of a broadcast.
Desporte v Bull  EWHC 2370 (QB) (25 August 2021) Julian Knowles J made an extended civil restraint order following privacy and libel actions.
AAA plc & Ors v Persons Unknown  EWHC 2529 (QB) (20 September 2021), Pepperall J granted an interim injunction to restrain allegations of fraud made by an attempted blackmailer.
New Issued Cases
There were 36 new cases issued in the Media and Communications List between 26 July and 23 September 2021 : 17 defamation cases, 11 data protection cases, 3 Norwich Pharmacal applications, 2 privacy cases and 2 “miscellaneous”.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
In the case of Nettle v Cruse  FCA 935 the defendant was ordered to pay $450,000 in damages for an ‘appalling and entirely unjustified’ negative online campaign designed to destroy a Sydney plastic surgeon’s reputation
The Guardian reports that the ABC investigative journalist Louise Milligan has agreed to pay MP Andrew Laming $79,000 plus legal costs for a series of tweets in which she suggested the federal Liberal MP had taken a photo of a woman “under her skirt”.
Rugby League player, Jack de Belin, dropped a defamation claim against the Daily Telegraph after it withdrew any suggestion that he was guilty of sexual assault. There was a report in the Guardian.
The BBC reports that assembly members are divided over proposals to change Northern Ireland’s defamation.
Bloomberg reports that a court has awarded Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong S$210,000 ($156,000) in combined damages in two defamation suits he brought against blogger Terry Xu and a second writer over an article published two years ago.
A Judge has ruled that three major defamation lawsuits from Dominion Voting Systems against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and the right-wing lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani will move forward toward a trial. The judgment can be found here [pdf]. There was a CNN report.
Research and Resources
- To Reform Social Media, Reform Informational Capitalism, Social Media, Freedom of Speech and the Future of Our Democracy; Lee Bollinger and Geoffrey R. Stone, eds., Forthcoming, Jack M. Balkin, Yale University – Law School.
- How to Do Surgery on the Constitutional Law of Libel, SMU Law Review, Forthcoming, R. George Wright, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.
- Can an Emoji Be Considered as Defamation? A Legal Analysis of Burrows v Houda  NSWDC 485, Priya Singh, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
- Submission to Review of the Model Defamation Provisions (Stage 2), Jelena Gligorijevic, ANU College of Law.
- An Endless Odyssey? Content Moderation Without General Content Monitoring Obligations, Christina Angelopoulos and Martin Senftleben, University of Cambridge and Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam.
- Silicon Valley’s Speech: Technology Giants and the Deregulatory First Amendment, 1 Journal of Free Speech Law 337 (2021), Alan Z. Rozenshtein, University of Minnesota Law School.
- Privacy in Public Places: The Transformative Potential of Navtej Johar v. Union of India, Danish Sheikh, University of Melbourne, Institute for International Law and the Humanities (IILAH).
- Privacy by Design by Regulation: The Case Study of Ontario, Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law 4 (1) 115-160 (2018), Avner Levin, Lincoln Alexander School of Law at Ryerson University.
- The First Amendment, Common Carriers, and Public Accommodations: Net Neutrality, Digital Platforms, and Privacy, Journal of Free Speech Law, Vol. 1, P. 463, 2021, U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 21-30, Christopher S. Yoo, University of Pennsylvania Law School.
- Privacy Regulations and Online Search Friction: Evidence from GDPR, Yu Zhao, Pinar Yildirim and Pradeep K. Chintagunta, University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School and University of Chicago.
- Privacy Injunctions, Emory Law Journal, Forthcoming, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2021-35, Danielle Keats Citron, University of Virginia School of Law
The following reserved judgments after a public hearing are outstanding:
Abramovich v HarperCollins and Roseneft v HarperCollins, heard 28 and 29 July 2021 (Tipples J).
Swan v Associated Newspapers, heard 15 July 2021 (Nicklin J)
Masarir v Kingdom of Saudi Arabia., heard 15 and 16 June 2021 (Julian Knowles J)
Riley v Murray, heard 10 to 12 May 2021 (Nicklin J)
Lloyd v Google, heard 28 and 29 April 2021 (UKSC)
Kumlin v Jonsson, heard 24 and 25 March 2021 (Julian Knowles J).
Junejo v New Vision TV Limited, heard 24 and 25 March 2021 (Murray J)
Miller v College of Policing and another, heard 9 and 10 March 2021 (Sharp P, Haddon-Cave and Simler LJJ)
Wright v McCormack, heard 16 and 18 February 2021 (Julian Knowles J)
Ansari v Amini, heard 10-11 November 2020 (Julian Knowles J)
Please let us know if there are other reserved judgments which we should be listing.