Journalists have been given access to report on family proceedings for the first time in a pilot project designed to improve transparency and accountability. Accredited journalists and legal bloggers will be allowed to report certain cases, including court and placement applications, starting from 30 January 2023 in Leeds, Carlisle and Cardiff. The Law Society Gazette covers the scheme.
The Government announced its commitment to stopping disruptive protests by tabling an amendment to the Public Order Bill. The changes broaden the legal definition of ‘serious disruption’ allowing police to shut down protests before chaos erupts and consider the total impact of a series of protests by the same group and long-running campaigns, rather than treating them as stand-alone incidents. The Government’s press release is available here. The Public Order Bill has been criticized by human rights groups, including the Big Brother Watch, who responded to the amendment in their blog this week.
President Biden published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal this week, calling on Democrats and Republicans to unite against abuses by tech companies. He urged Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to protect privacy and economic competition and prevent the exploitation of personal data, extremism, violation of civil rights and harm to children that have marred the tech industry. Human Rights Watch echoed the US President’s calls for stricter privacy laws.
Internet and Social Media
The Online Safety Bill returned to Parliament this week, and the government published a policy paper providing an overview of the expected impact of changes to the bill. Following a rebellion by backbench conservative MPs, the government pledged to amend the bill in the House of Lords to introduce jail time for social media bosses who repeatedly fail to remove online harms to children, the Telegraph, Sky News and Wall Street Journal report.
Data privacy and data protection
Following an investigation into local authorities’ use of algorithms in decisions on benefits and social welfare provisions, the ICO found no evidence to suggest claimants are subject to any harms of financial detriments resulting from the use of AI. The ICO concluded that there is always meaningful human involvement in the decision-making process but recommended that local authorities identify risks to people’s privacy, maintain transparency and ensure GDPR compliance. The ICO’s blog post is available to read here.
In the build-up to the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics, France is planning to expand its real-time surveillance systems, including implementing technology to spot suspicious behaviour, unattended luggage and alarming crowd movements, Politico reports. Although the new powers are only intended as temporary measures, the expansion has drawn criticism from privacy activists, including the NGO, La Quadrature du Net. The legislation will have to pass the Senate and the National Assembly.
Newspaper Journalism and regulation
Hacked Off have released a report titled ‘Ten Years of Press Freedom’ in which they assess the changes implemented since the 2011 Leveson Inquiry and showcase publishers who have joined the independent press regulators, IMPRESS. The report is available to read here.
- 11921-22 A man v Sunday World, 2 Privacy (2021), 4 Intrusion into grief or shock (2021) Decision: Breach – sanction: publication of adjudication
Statements in open court and apologies
There were no statements or apologies in open court this week.
New Issued cases
There were three defamation (libel and slander) claims issued in the Media and Communications list last week.
Last week in the courts
On 16 January 2023, there was a trial of preliminary issue in the case of Shah v Saddique & other (QB-2021-001140) before Steyn J. Judgment was reserved.
On the same day, judgment was handed down in Piepenbrock v London School of Economics and Political Science & Ors  EWHC 52 (KB) by Heather Williams J. The issue was whether the court had jurisdiction over the pleaded claim against the ninth defendant in the Claimant’s action for, inter alia, harassment, violation of the HRA 1998 and GDPR 2018. Mrs Justice Heather Williams held that the claim form had not been validly served on the ninth defendant and the court would not grant permission to serve out of the jurisdiction as none of the claims “give rise to a serious issue to be tried and they are bound to fail” . The court found that the claimant’s application for an extension of time was without merit and maintained the April 2022 anonymity order, protecting the ninth defendant’s identity.
Media law in other jurisdictions
Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, has announced plans to modernise the Privacy Act, the Guardian reports. The new legislation will consider matters such as the right to be forgotten and the longstanding recommendation of the Australian Law Reform Commission to create a statutory tort of privacy.
On 19 January 2023, the court accepted the defendant’s application to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim in defamation for want of prosecution due to delay in the proceedings for two years in Usher v Palmer  QDC 003. The court had to consider whether a step had been taken in the proceedings within the last two years for the purposes of s 22 of the Civil Proceedings Act 2011. The court held that the “mere making of application [to a costs assessor] does not constitute a step” . The plaintiff’s cross appeal seeking leave to continue with the proceeding was dismissed.
The ECtHR found that civil defamation proceedings had infringed on the Article 10 free expression rights of an Azerbaijani newspaper. The domestic courts held that the paper’s allegations of political discrimination in the financial awards granted by the State Media Support Fund were defamatory and order the paper to apologise, retract and pay damages. The ECtHR held that the domestic courts failed to consider the publications as value judgments, instead judging them as strict statements of fact, and paid insufficient regard to the newspaper’s role as a public watchdog and the plaintiff’s position as a state official.
On 16 January 2023, Justice Sally Gomery dismissed an action in false arrest and defamation in the case of Goble v. Onyx Community Service, 2023 ONSC 393 on the grounds that the proceedings were vexatious in that the plaintiffs repeat previously dismissed allegations . The court ordered the plaintiffs to pay costs of $22,346.
On 17 January 2023, the ECtHR found that there had been no infringement on the Article 10 free expression rights of a German newspaper that was ordered to publish a rectification in respect of an article about a political official’s connection to Germany’s ruling party. The court rejected the applicant’s argument that the political official should have been denied rectification on the basis that she failed to answer its pre-publication questions.
The Irish Data Protection Commission has fined Whatsapp Ireland €5.5 million for breaching GDPR and has ordered the company to become compliant with the regulations within 6 months. The investigation found that users had “insufficient clarity as to what processing operations were being carried out on their personal data, for what purpose and by reference to which of the six legal bases identified in Article 6 of the GDPR.”
In the buildup to the general election in February, political parties have been covertly paying social media influencers to spread disinformation, a BBC investigation has revealed. Influencers are rewarded with cash, gifts, government contracts and even political appointment in return for disseminating false narratives often playing to religious, ethnic and regional divides. Twitter has responded by removing some of the responsible accounts, however there are doubts about the platform’s ability to prevent electoral misinformation.
The International and European Federations of Journalists have called on the EU Commission to convince Ukraine to review its new media law. On 29 December 2022, the new law expanded the powers of the state media regulator to control print and online media, broadcasters and social media platforms in addition to issuing fines, revoking licences and blocking certain publications without a court ruling. The NY Times’ coverage of the bill can be found here.
The Supreme Court is also expected to hear two cases – Moody v NetChoice and NetChoice v Paxton – concerning the constitutionality of laws in Florida and Texas, which restrict the content moderation capabilities of social media companies. The New York Times and The Indian Express consider the potential ramifications of Supreme Court decisions on the cases. Staff Attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute, Ramya Krishnan analyses the laws’ transparency mandate in an article for Slate.
Research and Resources
- Schafer, Matthew and Valsangikar, Tanvi, The Application of the New York Anti-SLAPP Scheme in Federal Court (2023).
- Citron, Danielle Keats, Foreword, Join the Fight for Intimate Privacy (2023), European Union Data Protection Law Review, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2023-07 (Forthcoming).
- Devadasan, Vasudev and Giridhar, Aishwarya and Mohan, Shashank and Dhawan, Sachin and Kakkar, Jhalak, Tackling the Dissemination and Redistribution of NCII (2022), Centre for Communication Governance (Working Paper).
- Infantino, Marta, Big Data Analytics, Insurtech and Consumer Contracts: A European Appraisal (2022), 30 European Review of Private Law 613-634.
- Tzanou, Maria and Vogiatzoglou, Plixavra, In Search of Legal Certainty Regarding ‘Effective Redress’ in International Data Transfers: Unpacking the Conceptual Complexities and Clarifying the Substantive Requirements (2023). Review of European Administrative Law (Forthcoming).
- Santatzoglou, Sotirios and Tzanou, Maria, An (In)Adequate Data Protection Regime after Brexit? Bulk Surveillance Powers, National Security and the Future of EU-UK Data Transfers (2023) in E. Celeste (et al.) Data Protection and Digital Sovereignty Post-Brexit (Hart, 2023) (Forthcoming).
- Custers, Bart and Malgieri, Gianclaudio, Priceless Data: Why the EU Fundamental Right to Data Protection is at Odds with Trade in Personal Data (2022), Computer Law & Security Review, Vol. 45, p. 1-13.
- Kröger, Jacob Leon, Technology Cannot Fix the Privacy Crisis (2022). Chapter adapted from: Kröger, J. L. (2022). Rogue Apps, Hidden Web Tracking and Ubiquitous Sensors. Doctoral dissertation, Technische Universität Berlin, pp. 216–219.
- Brewczyńska, Magdalena and Kosta, Eleni, From the Fight Against Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Towards the Fight for Fundamental Rights: Role of Data Protection (2023), Tilburg Institute for Law Technology and Society, Law & Technology Working Paper Series.
- Hasan, Rumy, Does ‘Islamophobia’ Curtail Free Speech? (2022), Institute of Economic Affairs Discussion Paper No.112.
- Garon, Jon M., Legal Considerations for Offering Metaverse-Based Education (2023).
- Taouk, Mary, Is Criminalizing Sexual Harassment Enough? Lebanon’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Law: Benefits And Drawbacks (2022).
- Tarkington, Margaret, ‘Breathing Space to Survive’ — The Missing Component of Model Rule 8.4(g) (2022), Hofstra Law Review, Vol. 50, No. 3, 2022.
Next week in the courts
On 22 January 2023 Steyn J will hear an application in the case of Bukhari v Bukhari (QB-2020-001139).
On 25 January 2023 there will be a hearing in the case of Forensic Risk Ltd v Akisanya (KB-2022-004582).
Shah v Saddique, heard 16 January 2023 (Steyn J)
Amersi v Leslie, heard 10 January 2023 (Nicklin J)
Aaronson v Stones, heard 12-15 December 2022 (Julian Knowles J)
Nagi v Santhiramoulesan, heard on 11 July 2022 (Johnson J)
Daedone v BBC, heard on 7 July 2022 (Pepperall J)
Shah v Ahmed, heard on 4 July 2022 (Collins Rice 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 studying the BPC at the University of Law.