The letter follows the rejection of an amendment to the Economic Crime Bill by the Minister of State for Security that would have empowered judges to dismiss SLAPPs. Raab responded to the demands by saying, “This issue is of the utmost importance and is being given urgent consideration. We intend to introduce legislative proposals as soon as possible,” the Guardian reports.
Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has been fined €265 million for breaking EU data protection laws. The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) found that the company had breached GDPR rules as the data of 530 million Facebook users had been dumped online on a website for hackers. The DPC also ordered Meta to undertake a “range of corrective measures.” EuroNews, the New York Times, Bloomberg and TechCrunch covered the outcome of the investigation. Lavelle Partners also published a blog post covering the decision, which can be found here.
The Online Safety Bill is set to return to Parliament next week after an extended reporting stage. The amendments to the bill include the removal of the legal but harmful provision for those over age 18, which means that companies will not have to take down specific content as defined by the bill, and the inclusion of further criminal offences. The government published a press release summarising the changes. A status report on the Online Safety Bill can also be found on the LSE Media Blog. The Civil Liberties Campaign Group, Big Brother Watch, continue to oppose the bill, particularly the proposal which would see the government enforce social media companies’ terms and conditions.
The Cyberleagle blog has an interesting post: “How well do you know the Online Safety Bill?” (the answer, for most people, is likely to be “not very well”).
Internet and Social Media
Meta has asked for an exemption to be made from the provisions of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill for social media companies. The bill, which is at committee stage, plans to remove up to 4,000 EU laws from the UK. The government’s independent assessor has suggested that the bill is ‘not fit for purpose’ and Meta’s UK public policy manager stated that social media companies will be ‘less likely to operate in the UK’ if the bill is passed. More information is available from the Guardian.
Linklaters have published a blog post summarising the Spanish Supreme Court’s recent decision that makes social media users liable for not deleting abusive comments made by other users on their profile. The Spanish Information Society Services and e-Commerce Act 34/2002 imposed an obligation on online platforms to remove or disable access to any illegal content upon becoming aware of its illegal nature. However, until this ruling, the obligation did not extend to social media users.
The UK Cabinet Office has banned the installation of Chinese-made surveillance systems on ‘sensitive sites’ due to security risks. The world’s largest surveillance camera provider, Hikvision, challenged the notion that it is a threat to national security, stating that it “cannot transmit data from end-users to third parties.” This is despite China’s National Intelligence Law which requires citizens to cooperate and assist with state intelligence work. There have been various objections to the use of Chinese-made surveillance around the world, leading the US to place several companies on its trade blacklist in 2019 for security and human rights concerns. The Financial Times provide more information.
Art, Music and Copyright
Partners at Skadden have written an article examining the complex legal issues and challenges that NFTs present under US law. The authors explain that NFTs may be one answer to the problems involved in determining whether a digital work is an ‘original’ and examines issues such as who has the right to mint a NFT and how NFT rights can be incorporated into an agreement. The article is available here.
Newspaper Journalism and regulation
There have been two decisions published this week
- Resolution Statement – 11453-22 Kusamotu v The Times, 1 Accuracy (2021), Resolved IPSO Mediation
- 11074-22 Knight v The Times, 1 Accuracy (2021), Decision: No Breach – after investigation
New Issued cases
There was one new harassment claim issued in the Media and Communication List last week.
Last week in the courts
On 30 November 2022, Julian Knowles J handed down judgement in Ware v French  EWHC 3030 (KB) awarding damages of £90,000, costs and a permanent injunction in favour of the claimant after an undefended trial. The Press Gazette covered the trial and the judgement. 5RB’s summary can be found here.
On 28 November 2022, Collins Rice J handed down judgement in the case of Parsons v Garnett & Others  EWHC 3017 (KB). The claimant accused the defendants of harassment and libel resulting from the circulation of anonymous letters in their local village. The claimant made an application for default judgement as the defendants had not filed any pleadings or applications, despite placing some evidence before the court. The Judge decided in favour of the claimant on the grounds of liability outlined in his particulars of claim.
On the same day, there was a hearing of an application in the case of Frati v Bowen-Carter.
On 1 December 2022, the Court of Appeal (Lewis, Elisabeth Laing and Warby LJJ) heard an appeal in the case of Millicom Service UK Limited & Ors v Clifford. The judgment of EAT which was the subject of the appeal can be found here  EAT 74. Judgment was reserved.
On the same day Master Cook struck out the claim in the case of Singh v Grief to Grace  EWHC 2999 (KB) after hearing the claimant’s applications (i) for an anonymity order and (ii) to amend the claim form and particulars of claim.
On Monday 5 December 2022, the LSE Department of Media Communications is holding an event to celebrate the legacy of Professor Emerita, Robin Mansell. As the author of “Imagining the Internet,” Mansell explored the policy and regulatory issues that arose with the paradoxical ideas shaping the early internet. Professor Nick Couldry and Assistant Professor João Magalhães offer commentaries of Mansell’s work on the LSE Media Blog. Register for the event here.
Media law in other jurisdictions
A retired special forces officer, Heston Russell, is suing the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for articles in 2020 and 2021 which he claims portrayed him as a war criminal, the Guardian reports. Heston Russell seeks the removal of the article, which stated that his platoon was under investigation for a shooting in Afghanistan, in addition to aggravated damages and legal costs.
On 28 November 2022, judgement was handed down in Luvalot Clothing Pty Ltd v Dong  FCA 1411. Luvalot claimed that the defendant, a former sales assistant employed by the company, had breached her contract, misused confidential information and breached s 183 of the Corporations Act 2001 by offering to sell women’s clothing to other brands after her employment with Luvalot had terminated. The court found that Luvalot failed to identify, “with sufficient specificity, the information which it claims to be confidential”  and found that the Customer Details List did not possess the “necessary quality of confidence” to impose an obligation of confidence . Anderson J dismissed the claim and ordered the Applicant to pay the Respondent’s costs.
On 30 November 2022, the Supreme Court of Victoria dismissed an application for leave to appeal a decision of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on whether documents held by the Frankston City Council concerning charges brought against the applicant, Mr Huang, which were subsequently withdrawn, must be provided to him under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 in the case of Huang v Frankston City Council  VSC 733.
On 1 December 2022, judgement was handed down in Taylor v Victorian Institute of Teaching (Human Rights)  VCAT 1367. The Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) applied for an order dismissing Mr Taylor’s claim for breach of the Information Privacy Principles (IPPs). Allegations made by Mr Taylor relating to the decision or process of a 2015 VIT panel were struck out. However, the remaining claims, which relate to the question of whether there has been any breach of the IPPs, will proceed to a directions hearing.
On 29 November 2022, judgement was handed down in Kaur v. Virk 2022 ONSC 6697 by Emery J. The plaintiff was awarded $5,000 in general damages and $30,390 in special damages due to loss of income over defamatory videos attacking Ms Kaur’s character. The claim for punitive damages was dismissed.
A student in Nigeria has been charged with “criminal defamation” for a tweet he posted stating that the country’s first lady, Aisha Buhari, had gotten “fatter by eating the masses’ money”. The Abuja police launched an investigation after Buhari filed a complaint. If convicted, the student faces up to two years in prison. Amnesty International have called for his release. The BBC, Guardian and Vice covered the arrest.
Edward Snowden, the US intelligence contractor turned whistleblower, has been granted a Russian passport and has taken the citizenship oath, according to his lawyer. Snowden was stranded in Moscow airport in 2013 when the US revoked his passport after he leaked classified National Security Agency documents relating to their mass surveillance of citizens and foreign officials. The Times, Independent, Associated Press and the Moscow Times covered the development.
The Associated Press has reported FBI Director Chris Wray’s concerns about TikTok, which he says is in the hands of a government that “doesn’t share our values.” Wray warned that China’s ability to control the algorithm means that the country can “manipulate content” and use it to influence operations. He argued that China could weaponise user data for the purpose of espionage.
Research and Resources
- Rothchild, John, Sham Choice: How the Current Privacy Regime Fails Us, and How to Fix It (2022), University of Missouri-Kansas City Law Review, Forthcoming.
- Kreiczer-Levy, Shelly, Reclaiming Feudalism for the Technological Era (2022), Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, Forthcoming.
- Throne, Robin, Adverse trends in Data Ethics: The AI Bill of Rights and Human Subjects Protections (2022), Western Governors University.
- Picht, Peter. G, and Thouvenin, Florent, AI & IP: Theory to Policy and Back Again Policy: Research Recommendations at the Intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property (2022).
- Tosoni, Luca, and Bygrave, Lee. A, The Definitions in Article 3 of the EU Law Enforcement Directive: Commentary, Oxford University Press, Forthcoming.
- Schwartz, Paul. M, A Tribute to Joel Reidenberg (2022), University of California, Berkeley- School of Law
Next week in the courts
On Monday 5 December 2022 Griffiths J will hear the trial in the defamation case of ABC v Palmer (QB-2021-001857)
On Wednesday 7 December 2022 there will be a hearing in the case of Schlumberger v Gibbs and another (QB-2019-004261).
On Thursday 8 December 2022 there will be hearings in the cases of Soriano -v- Societe D’Exploitation De L’Hebdomadaire Le Point (SEBDO) & anr (QB-2019-002482) and O’Connor v Ministry of Justice and another (QB-2021-004474).
On Friday 9 December 2022 there will be a hearing in the case of Mincione -v- GEDI Gruppo Editoriale S.p.A. (QB-2020-004499).
Millicom Service UK Limited & Ors v Clifford, heard on 1 December 2022 (Lewis, Elisabeth Laing and Warby LJJ)
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)
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)
This Round Up was compiled by Jasleen Chaggar who is a complex litigation paralegal at Gherson Solicitors