The first high-profile libel trial of 2022 began last week with Banks v Cadwalladr. Aaron Banks, a businessman and pro-Brexit political donor, is suing freelance journalist Carole Cadwalladr, for a comment made in her 2019 Ted Talk which was held to mean that Mr Banks had lied about his relationship with the Russian government and acceptance of foreign funding.
Ms Cadwalladr is relying on the defence of public interest, and has accused Mr Banks of bringing a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) against her. Mr Banks denies that his claim is vexatious. He accepts that Ms Cadwalladr’s Ted Talk was speaking on a matter of public interest, namely the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but finds the personal criticism of him in the talk were unnecessary, inaccurate and unfair. The trial continues on Monday 17 January 2022. The Press Gazette reports here. Inforrm reports here and here. The Guardian reports here.
Richard Clayton QC assesses the UK Government’s proposals for reforming the Human Rights Act, which includes plans to create new protections for freedom of expression and a re-balancing of misuse of private information claims. The posts can be read here, here and here.
Internet and Social Media
A class-action claim said to be worth £3.2bn has been filed against Meta, the owners of Facebook, in the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal. The claim is on behalf of British Facebook users between 2015 and 2019, and alleges that Facebook has unfairly made billions of pounds by imposing unfair terms and conditions that demanded consumers surrender valuable personal data to access the network.
The House of Representatives panel investigating the deadly January 6, 2021 riot at the United States Capitol subpoenaed the parent companies of Facebook, Google, Twitter and Reddit for information about how their platforms were used to spread misinformation in a failed bid to overturn the 2020 election results.
In an open letter to lawmakers, a group of digital rights organizations and business leaders have asked for a ban on targeted advertising online. This comes ahead of the European Parliament’s anticipated vote on the Digital Services Act next week. The group proposes enabling platforms to use freely given information and data gleaned through algorithms for targeted advertising.
Privacy International, along with organizations and academics around the world, have urged member states in the Ad Hoc Committee responsible for drafting a potential United Nations Cybercrime Treaty to ensure human rights protections are reflected in the any future treaty.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
In a letter addressed to certain members of the European Parliament, European Commissioner for Justice Reynders refuted some of the criticism that has been raised against the Irish Data Protection Commissioner. The Privacy & Information Security Law Blog has more information here.
- 043659-21 Brundrett & Bailey v Mail Online, 1 Accuracy (2019), Breach – sanction: action as offered by publication
- 04370-21 Brundrett & Bailey v Daily Star, 1 Accuracy (2012), Breach – sanction: action as offered by the publication
- 07583-21 Mitchell v Stornoway Gazette, 1 Accuracy (2019), Breach – sanction: action as offered by publication
New Issued Cases
There were two new cases issued in the last week, both were Norwich Pharmacal applications.
Last Week in the Courts
Judgement was handed down in Bashar v Birmingham City Council  EWHC 25 (QB) by Murray J on 11 January 2022. It was found that two statements made in a Family Assessment in August 2016 relating to the Claimant’s “extreme” views were defamatory at common law. They implied that Mr Bashar would support and possibly even advocate for extremist, terrorist or jihadist action, at least in some contexts .
On 11 to 13 January 2022 Nicklin J heard the trial in the privacy case of Underwood v Bounty.
On 13 January 2022 Julian Knowles J heard the trial in the libel case of Goldsmith v Bissett-Powell.
On the same day Nicklin J heard consequential arguments in the case of Riley v Murray.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
On 11 January 2022, the ECtHR ruled that Bulgaria’s use of secret surveillance, retention and accessing of communication data violated Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Politico reports on the judgement here. DW reports here.
The Canadian Privacy Law Blog has posed a presentation on the Human Rights and legal considerations of social media background checks, available here.
The defamation claim in Cohan v Darr (Kokopelli Hair Salon and Lounge Gallergy) SC-2021-004721 was dismissed and counterclaim refused. The dispute arose over an unsatisfactory haircut and critical comments made on social media.
A joint investigation by Access Now and the Citizen Lab has identified the use of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware against journalists and members of civil society organizations in El Salvador on a massive scale. Amnesty International has more information here.
The BBC reports on a libel claim by former Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, against another former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert. Mr Netanyahu, his wife Sara, and their eldest son Yair are suing Mr Olmert for $269,000 (£198,000) in damages for saying that they were mentally ill.
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president, Michael Ricketts, has been ordered to pay J$9m (£43,000) for malicious comments which amounted to a homophobic slur, against Sporting Central CEO Ainsley Lowe on local radio in 2016.
Journalist Christopher Acosta and Penguin Random House Peru director Jerónimo Pimentel have been found guilty of defaming César Acuña, a former mayor, governor, congressman, and two-time presidential candidate. Both have been sentenced to two-year suspended prison terms. Acosta, Pimentel, and Penguin Random House Peru are to pay Acuña a total of 400,000 sols (US$102,608) in damages. Committee to Protect Journalists has more information here.
The New York Office of the Attorney General has announced the results of an investigation into “credential stuffing,” which uncovered 1.1 million compromised accounts from cyberattacks on 17 well-known companies. “Credential stuffing” refers to a type of cyberattack that typically involves repeated attempts to log in to online accounts using usernames and passwords stolen from other online services. The Privacy & Information Security Law Blog has more information here.
Singer Cardi B’s defamation suit against YouTuber Latasha Kebe began this week, with Cardi B testifying herself. The dispute arises over allegations made by Kebe about Cardi B’s use of drugs and her sexual health.
Research and Resources
- Michalkiewicz-Kadziela & Milczarek, Legal boundaries of digital identity creation  Internet Policy Review, 11(1)
- Dencik & Sanchez-Monedero, Data Justice , Internet Policy Review, 11(1)
- Martin Senftleben, EU Copyright 20 Years After the InfoSoc Directive – Flexibility Needed More Than Ever (2021) Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam; University of Amsterdam
- Hunter Dorwart, Data Regimes: An Analytical Guide For Understanding How Governments Regulate Data (2019) Independent
- Richard Garnett, Invasion of Privacy: Cross-Border Implications (2018), Remedies for Breach of Privacy (Hart)
Next Week in the Courts
The trial in the Banks v Cadwalladr case continues before Steyn J on 17, 18 and 19 January 2022.
On 17 and 18 January 2002 Richard Spearman QC will hear the trial in the data protection case of Ali v Luton Borough Council.
On 18 January 2022 Nicklin J will hear a CMC and applications in the case of MBR Acres v Free MBR Beagles
Underwood v Bounty UK Ltd, heard on 11 to 13 January 2022 (Nicklin J).
Goldsmith v Bissett-Powell, heard on 13 January 2022 (Julian Knowles J).
Driver v Crown Prosecution Service, heard on 8 December 2021 (Julian Knowles J)
ZXC v Bloomberg LP, heard on 30 November – 1 December 2021 (UK Supreme Court).
Qatar Airways Group Q.S.C.S v Middle East News UK Limited and others heard on 4 October 2021 (Saini J)
Haviland v The Andrew Lownie Literary Agency Ltd., heard on 27 July 2021 (Murray J)
Masarir v Kingdom of Saudi Arabia., heard 15 and 16 June 2021 (Julian Knowles J)
Kumlin v Jonsson, heard 24 and 25 March 2021 (Julian Knowles J).
Ansari v Amini, heard 10 and 11 November 2020 (Julian Knowles J)
This Round Up was compiled by Colette Allen who is the host of Newscast on Dr Thomas Bennett and Professor Paul Wragg’s The Media Law Podcast (@MediaLawPodcast).