The much-anticipated defamation trial between Rebekah Vardy and Colleen Rooney, dubbed the “WAGatha Christie trial,” is due to start this week. Sky News, Guardian, and Times are some of many that cover provide summaries of the trial history to date. Listen to the Guardian’s Today in Focus summary of the trial (Part 1 and Part 2). Read past Inforrm comment pieces on the trial here and here.
Parliament has invited Elon Musk to speak with its Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee regarding the future of Twitter, which Musk recently purchased for $44 billion. In a statement from MP Julian Knight, the DCMS is said to be “keen to learn more about how Mr. Musk will balance his clear commitment to free speech with new obligations to protect Twitter’s users from online harms.” Musk has loosely proposed changes to Twitter’s policies, including authenticating users with a real-name policy. CNBC has more information here.
The ongoing defamation trial between actor Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard is covered by the Independent, NBC News, Insider, Entertainment Weekly, Guardian, among others.
Internet and Social Media
The European Data Protection Board has published its draft guidance on “dark patterns” in social media for consultation. The Guidelines consider common social media interfaces that present the content of privacy policies and collect consent in ways which substantively violate the GDPR requirements, while still pretending to formally comply with them. The Norton Rose Fulbright Data Protection Report summary and comment can be read here.
Twitter may have provided a researcher’s account data to a Russian hacker allegedly associated with the REvil ransomware group following a fake emergency disclosure request, CyberScoop reports.
A leaked internal document has shown Facebook may not know the extent of its data sharing, prompting several U.S. and European lawmakers to call for improved oversight to ensure compliance with existing privacy regulations, Vice reports.
Art, Music and Copyright
IPKat has published Part 1 of its deep-dive into brand protection in the Metaverse, following the explosion of brands taking advantage of the increased consumer engagement in the virtual realm.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The UK government will announce its new data protection reform bill during the Queen’s Speech on 10 May 2022. The draft bill will be part of a larger data protection reform package, and is expected in summer 2022. Sky News has more information here.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has launched its updated artificial intelligence and data protection risk toolkit. The ICO said it understands “the distinct benefits that AI can bring, but also the risks it can pose.” The toolkit is said to provide “a clear methodology to audit AI applications and ensure they process personal data fairly.”
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
IPSO has upheld a complaint against the Mail on Sunday made by actress Lily James relating to fifty-one articles published by freelance journalists who persistently loitered near her home, forcing her to move. IPSO found that the number of articles published about James was not in itself harassment, but the persistent attention of journalists at her home was. The Press Gazette has more information here.
The editor of the Financial Times Roula Khalaf has called for action to stop the “professionalised intimidation” of journalists in the UK legal system at the annual Hugh Khalaf lecture. The Press Gazette has more information here.
IPSO has updated its guidance on reporting material obtained from social media. The new non-binding guidance was developed using specific clauses from the Editors’ Code of Practice relating to accuracy, privacy, intrusion into grief or shock, and children. There is now a requirement to correct significant inaccuracies and misleading statements on the same online platform that the statement was originally published. The guidance also encourages sensitivity and caution when using information from social media to illustrate a subject’s grief or shock.
- 09326-21 Kennedy v Real People, 1 Accuracy (2019), 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2019), No breach – after investigation
- 11214-21 Zaman v The Mail on Sunday, 2 Privacy (2021), No breach – after investigation
New Issued Cases
There were two defamation (libel and slander) claims filed on the media and communications list last week.
Statements in Open Court
On 5 May 2022, there was a statement in open court in the case of Hamblin v News Group Newspapers Limited before Nicklin J
On 28 April 2022 HHJ Lewis handed down judgment in the case of Shah v Chohan  EWHC 996 (QB)(heard on 7 March 2022). Following the trial of preliminary issues it was held that the Tweet complained of was defamatory but was not a statement of fact and that the basis of the opinion was sufficiently stated.
Last Week in the Courts
On 4 May 2022, Lieven J handed down judgment in the case of Tickle v Herefordshire County Council  EWHC 1017 (Fam) ,
On the same day there was a hearing in the case of LCG v OVD before Murray J.
On 6 May 2022, there was a hearing in the case of Hijazi v Yaxley Lennon before Nicklin J.
On the same day there was a hearing in the case of Amazon v Tejan-Kella before Murray J.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
European Parliament members have criticised the lack of action by the European Commission over member states’ use of the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. This follows last year’s revelations that uncovered the NSO Group had provided governments with spyware, allowing undetected access to content, exchanges and geolocation of the mobile phones of politicians, journalists and activists around the world.
The Dutch Supreme Court has entered judgment in favour of F1 driver Max Verstappen and confirmed that a look-a-like could constitute an infringement of his image rights. The claim related to a commercial which used a look-a-like of Verstappen delivering groceries by the rival grocery brand to that which Verstappen represented in a very similar advert. The Supreme Court ruled that mere recognizability of the imitated person is not sufficient; it must be established that the possibility of recognition was (purposefully) enhanced, through either the specific presentation of the look-a-like (e.g. the clothing and make-up), or the overall depiction or the context in which the image is being published. IPKat has more information here.
India has issued new guidance relating to “information security practices, procedure, prevention, response and reporting of cyber incidents for Safe & Trusted Internet.” The guidance requires “service providers, intermediary, data centre, body corporate and Government organizations” to report cyber incidents to India’s Computer Emergency Response Team within six hours of noticing such incidents or being notified about such incidents. Before this guidance, notification of a cyber incident was required “within a reasonable time” after occurrence or discovery. The Privacy and Information Security Law Blog has more information here.
The BBC covers a proposed Criminal Procedure (Identification) law that would give sweeping powers to law enforcement agencies to collect biometric data, which has sparked concerns over privacy.
The defamation suit against Alec Baldwin over online harassment filed by the family of a Wyoming Marine who was killed in Afghanistan has been dismissed, the Independent reports.
The defamation lawsuit between former US president Donald Trump and writer E Jean Carroll over a rape allegation is set to resume the process of exchanging evidence, CNBC reports.
Director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center Daphne Keller’s testimony before the Senate hearing on platform transparency can be read here.
On 4 May 2022, the cable, phone, and wireless companies suing California over its historic net neutrality law withdrew their lawsuit after three consecutive losses in federal courts in California. Read the statement from Professor Barbara van Schewick (professor of law at Stanford University and the director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society) who testified at every hearing on the bill, and filed two amicus briefs on the key issues in the case, here.
The Norton Rose Fulbright Social Media Law Bulletin has an article on the recent federal court case from California Prehired, LLC v Provins (2022 WL 1093237), which sheds light on the court’s approach to bringing a lawsuit based on something posted on social media.
SafeGraph, a location data broker, has stopped offering data related to Planned Parenthood and similar family planning centres after the revelation that it is possible to buy information on how many people were visiting the facilities, where they came from, and where they went afterwards; deemed highly concerning in the wake of the Supreme Court’s potential plan to repeal Roe v. Wade. Vice has more information here. The Guardian has an article on the need for tighter data privacy regulation to prevent law enforcement requesting data like geolocation and internet searches that could be used to make arrests in states where abortion would be criminalised.
Kentucky and Maryland have introduced insurance data security legislation based on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Insurance Data Security Model Law. The Privacy and Information Security Law Blog has more information here.
The Connecticut Legislature has passed a comprehensive privacy bill, Inside Privacy reports.
Research and Resources
- Boland, Michael James, Corporate Liability under the Harassment, Harmful Communications & Related Offences Act 2020: Outstanding Questions (2022), University College Cork – School of Law
- Marcus, J. Scott, Achieving Joined-Up Digital Policy in the EU (2022), Bruegel; European University Institute – Florence School of Regulation; The Japanese Institute of Global Communications (J.I. GLOCOM)
- Karagianni, Anastasia and Papakonstantinou, Vagelis, Surveillance in Schools Across Europe: A New Phenomenon in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic? The Cases of Greece and France (2022), European Journal of Educational Research
- Tschider, Charlotte, Prescribing Exploitation (2022), Maryland Law Review
- Bailey, Rishab and Misra, Prakhar, Interoperability of Social Media: An appraisal of the regulatory and technical ecosystem (2022) Johns Hopkins University
Next Week in the Courts
On 9 May 2022, there will be statements in open court the cases of, Davidoff v Doshi and Davidoff v Govan before Collins Rice J.
On the same day there will be a trial of a preliminary issue in the case of Anexo Group Plc and others v Newsquest Specialist Media Ltd before Tipples J and a directions hearing in the case of Amazon -v- Tejan-Kella before Saini J.
On 10 to 13 May 2022 the trial of Vardy v Rooney will take place before Steyn J.
On 12 May 2022, there will be hearings in the cases of Lee -v- Brown before Collins Rice J and MPL -v- WSZ before Saini J.
LCG v. OVD, heard on 4 May 2022 (Murray J).
Dudley v Phillips , heard on 12 April 2022 (Saini J)
XXX v Persons Unknown , heard on 12 April 2022 (Chamberlain J).
Various Claimants v MGN, heard on 11 to 13 April 2022 (Fancourt J).
Wright v Granath, heard on 24 February 2022 (HHJ Lewis).
Banks v Cadwalladr 14, 17 to 19 and 21 January 2022 (Steyn 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).
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).
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).
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