The House of Commons vote on the Online Safety Bill has been delayed until the autumn following the resignation of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. This has prompted a debate between MPs, free speech and child safety campaigners over the vitality of the Bill, and questions regarding the fate of the Bill under a new Tory leader.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has denied that the legislation was being dropped and made a point of reiterating that the legislation intends to deliver on the government’s manifesto commitment to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online while defending freedom of speech.
Conservative leadership candidate Kemi Badenoch criticized the bill as overreaching, saying that the legislation is “in no fit state to become law” and that “we should not be legislating for hurt feelings.” Responding to this comment, senior policy officer at the NSPCC children’s charity Hannah Rüschen reminded The Media Law Podcast: Newscast that the Bill is first and foremost about protecting children online, citing the increase in online child abuse as more than “hurt feelings.” The Verge, Independent, Spectator, Guardian, Register and HuffPost are some of the many titles to provide coverage and analysis.
Amber Heard’s bid for a retrial of the defamation claim brought by her ex-husband Johnny Depp has been denied. The actress claimed one of the jurors had not been properly vetted. Judge Penney Azcarate threw out her application and said Depp’s court victory remained and the jury had made a “competent decision.” Sky News, GB News and USA Today cover the ruling.
Internet and Social Media
Twitter is suing billionaire Elon Musk to try to force him to buy the social media firm. The claim comes after Musk’s announcement on 9 July 2022 that he was walking away from his proposed $44bn (£37bn) takeover of Twitter, the BBC reports.
Tom Morrison-Bell, Google’s UK public policy manager, has warned that paying news publishers for their content to appear in search results could undermine otherwise high trust in their service. Morrison-Bell also criticised the forthcoming Online Safety Bill, arguing its exemption for news publishers may undermine its own goals by preventing platforms from quickly removing harmful content. The Press Gazette has more information here.
Research conducted by the non-profit Fairplay has found TikTok, WhatsApp and Instagram do not offer similar children’s privacy and safety protections in all operating markets. The research reviewed the platforms’ default settings and terms and conditions in 14 countries, identifying “significant” differences in children’s protections on “seemingly identical platforms” depending on location. Thirty-nine child safety and digital rights groups called on TikTok in particular to implement a global “Safety By Design” and “Children’s Rights by Design” approach. TechCrunch has more information here.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
DCMS Director of Data Policy Jenny Hall said the department will not “stand still” on UK data protection reform after the resignation of DCMS Minister Julia Lopez in protest of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Hall said Secretary of State for DCMS Nadine Dorries is “ultimately responsible” for ongoing reforms, including changes to the UK’s data transfer regime. NextGov has more information here.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has called for a government review of agencies’ communications over private email and messaging applications, including WhatsApp. This follows a 2021 ICO review of transparency and data security in methods of private communications between ministers and officials at the Department of Health and Social Care. The review found a “lack of clear controls” around utilized messaging apps and technology could have led to “lost or insecurely handled” information around the government’s COVID-19 response.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
New research carried out by Hacked Off has revealed that only 3% of “Intrusion into grief or shock” complaints to IPSO were upheld against the press.
There were no new IPSO rulings last week.
New Issued Cases
There were three defamation (libel and slander) and one misuse of private information claim(s) issued in the Media and Communications List last week.
Last Week in the Courts
On 11 July 2022 Johnson J heard the trial of preliminary issues in the case of Nagi v Santhiramoulesan.
On 12 and 13 July 2022 Jay J heard the case of Hodson v Persons Unknown & Others.
On 14 July 2022 Heather Williams J heard an application in the case of Piepenbrock v LSE.
On the same day Nicklin J heard an application in the case of EGC v PGF NHS Trust.
On 15 July 2022 there was a hearing in the case of LCG v OVD and Ors.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
Former Attorney General Christian Porter has lost his appeal against a federal court decision which blocked his barrister from acting in a now-abandoned defamation case against the ABC, the Guardian reports.
The appeal brought by Mr Ogbonna against the orders of Bowden DCJ dismissing his defamation action was dismissed in OGBONNA -v- PROGRAMMED INTEGRATED WORKFORCE LTD [No 2]  WASCA 79.
An application to dismiss a claim under s. 4 of the Protection of Public Participation Act 2019 as a “strategic litigation against public participation” (“SLAPP”) suit brought by Rebel News was allowed in Simpson v Rebel News Network Ltd 2022 BCSC 1160 (CanLII).
The European Data Protection Board published an opinion on data transfers between EU member states and Russia. The board stated Russia is “no longer a contracting party” to EU legal frameworks and protocols following sanctions related to its war in Ukraine. The lack of EU recognition or an adequacy decision means transfers involving Russian companies can only occur “using one of the other transfer instruments provided for in Chapter V (of the EU General Data Protection Regulation).”
Following “engagement” with the oversight office for Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, TikTok paused a planned privacy notice update in Europe under which it would no longer ask users for consent to receive targeted advertising, TechCrunch reports.
The Hellenic Data Protection Authority fined Clearview AI €20 million for EU GDPR violations, and banned the facial recognition company from collecting and processing Greeks’ personal data, TechCrunch reports.
Lawyers for Nobel Prize-winning journalist Maria Ressa have called for an end to the “rot” facing press freedom in the Philippines after she had a six-year sentence for cyber libel increased by 8 months and 20 days, the Press Gazette reports.
As mentioned above, Amber Heard’s bid for a retrial has been denied
Former Attorney General Bill Barr has been subpoenaed by the court hearing the defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News over claims the network aired defamatory claims about the company after the 2020 election. Barr became the highest-ranking Trump official to certify that the election was not stolen. The Independent has more information here.
President Biden has issued an Executive Order titled, “Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services,” in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe v Wade. The Executive Order aims, in part, to “[p]rotect the privacy of patients and their access to accurate information” regarding reproductive health care services. It directs the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Trade Commission to take certain steps to address the potential threat to patient privacy caused by the transfer and sale of sensitive health-related data, and by digital surveillance related to reproductive health care services from fraudulent schemes or deceptive practices. Read the Privacy and Information Security Law Blog’s summary here.
Research and Resources
- Douglas, Michael, Publication of Defamation by Encouraging Third Party Comments on Social Media (2022), Law Quarterly Review 362
- Dias, Talita, Tackling Online Hate Speech through Content Moderation: The Legal Framework Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (2022), Bahador, Hammer and Livingston (eds), Countering online hate and its offline consequences in conflict-fragile settings (Forthcoming)
- Saujan, Iqbal, The Right to Information Act and its Implementation in Sri Lanka: An Empirical Analysis (2022), Department of Islamic Studies, South Eastern University of Sri Lanka
- Cymutta, Sebastian and Zwanenburg, Marten and Oling, Paul, Military Data and Information Sharing – A European Union Perspective (2022), Proceedings of the 14th Annual International Conference on Cyber Conflict
- Stevens, Yuan, Dignity, Intersectional Gendered Harm, and a Flexible Approach: Analysis of the Right to One’s Image in Quebec (2022), Canadian Journal of Law and Technology 2022
- Determann, Lothar, California Privacy Law Vectors for Data Disclosures (2022), Freie Universität Berlin; Baker & McKenzie LLP; Berkeley School of Law; University of California Hastings College of the Law
- Kaminski, Margot E., Technological ‘Disruption’ of the Law’s Imagined Scene: Some Lessons from Lex Informatica (2022), Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 36
Next Week in the Courts
On 18 July 2022 Steyn J will hear the trial in the case of Riley v Sivier. The case was the subject of a judgment by the Court of Appeal in May 2021 ( EWCA Civ 713).
On 19 July 2022 Johnson J will hear an application in the case of Hills v Fomukong Epse Tabe.
On the same day Collins J will hear an application in the case of Dew v Mills Nanyn.
On 19 and 20 July 2022 Richard Spearman QC will hear the case of White v South Devon Railway Limited.
On 21 July 2022 the Court of Appeal will hear the defendant’s appeal in the case of Riley v Murray against the judgment of Nicklin J dated 20 December 2021 ( EWHC 3437 (QB)) in which damages of £10,000 were awarded to the claimant. The hearing will be live streamed.
On the same day there will be a hearing in the case of Alexandra Pettifer v BBC.
On 21 and 22 July 2022 there will be a hearing the case of MBR Acres Ltd v FREE the MBR Beagles before Nicklin J.
Nagi v Santhiramoulesan, heard on 11 July 2022 (Johnson J).
Hodson -v- Persons Unknown & Others, heard on 12 and 13 July 2022 (Jay J).
Daedone v BBC, heard on 7 July 2022 (Pepperall J).
Shah v Ahmed, heard on 4 July 2022 (Collins Rice J).
Tayler v HarperCollins, heard on 28 June 2022 (Pepperall J)
George v Cannell, heard on 14 June 2022 (Underhill V-P, Warby and Snowden LLJ)
Wright v McCormack, heard on 23 May 2022 (Chamberlain J).
Vardy v Rooney, heard on 10-13 , and 16, 17 and 19 May 2022 (Steyn J).
BW Legal Services v Trustpilot A/S, heard 17 and 18 May 2022 (Tipples J)
LCG v. OVD, heard on 4 May 2022 (Murray J).
XXX v Persons Unknown , heard on 12 April 2022 (Chamberlain J).
Driver v Crown Prosecution Service, heard on 8 December 2021 (Julian Knowles J).
Masarir v Kingdom of Saudi Arabia., heard 15 and 16 June 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).