BBC offices in India have been raided by tax department officials just weeks after the release of a documentary critical of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, which was blocked by the government. The Guardian, BBC and Bloomberg cover the story.
The Guardian and Observer further report the claims of Indian journalists that the BBC raid is part of a drive to intimidate the media, while the Financial Times traces India’s creeping clampdown on freedom of expression.
Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC and Adam Wagner (Doughty Street Chambers) have been threatened with defamation proceedings by Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, and other senior ministers, for making submissions on behalf of a client. Caoilfhionn and Wagner are representing Gibraltar’s former police chief, Ian McGrail, who claims he was pressed into taking early retirement after seeking to execute a search warrant against someone who had a close relationship with Picardo. The chief minister denies the allegations. Lawyers acting for the Gibraltar government have stated that the allegations made by Gallagher and Wagner on behalf of McGrail “are considered to be outrageous and wholly untrue and considered also to be highly defamatory. We are further instructed by the chief minister to say that he fully reserves his rights against all relevant persons in this respect.” The Guardian has more information here.
Police investigating the disappearance of Nicola Bulley have been criticised for revealing personal, private information. On 15 February 2023, Lancashire Police said the 45-year-old had suffered with “some significant issues with alcohol” and “ongoing struggles with the menopause”. Zoë Billingham, the chairwoman of an NHS mental health trust who has previously worked in policing, told BBC News “people are asking rightly how does the reproductive status of a woman who has gone missing relate to the bid to find her and would that same information be put in the public domain if she were a man.” Sky News sets out how this invasion of privacy could have been avoided. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced they will be asking Lancashire Police to set out how they reached the decision to disclose this information.
Internet and Social Media
The ICO has published its guidance aimed to assist children’s online game developers and their UK Age-Appropriate Design Code compliance efforts.
Chinese social media company TikTok has announced plans to open two more data centres in Europe. The announcement has been interpreted by many as an attempt to mitigate concerns over the security of users’ data and ease regulatory pressure on the company. TikTok has been seeking to assure governments and regulators that users’ personal data cannot be accessed and its content cannot be manipulated by China’s Communist Party or anyone else under Beijing’s influence. Reuters has more information here.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
A former 111 call centre advisor has been found guilty and fined for illegally accessing the medical records of a child and his family. Read the ICO summary here.
The Financial Conduct Authority has announced it is continuing the initiative to provide synthetic data sets “to help increase innovation and choice in financial services.” Synthetic data is an effective alternative for real datasets, which are difficult for third parties to utilize because of privacy restrictions. Reuters has more information here.
Duke University School of Law professor Nita Farahany has explained to The Wall Street Journal how employers are increasingly using neurotechnology to monitor employees, and how privacy law has failed to keep up. Farahany said much can be learned about a person from their brain data and “we ought to have a special place we think about when it comes to the brain. It is the last space where we truly have privacy.”
The Office of the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner has raised concerns over the use of Chinese surveillance cameras by law enforcement and defence agencies. The OBSCC found 24 regional police forces, the British Transport Police, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, the Ministry of Defence and the National Crime Agency used CCTV cameras on their premises made by Chinese companies Dahua, Hikvision and Huawei, Taiwan’s Nuuo, or US-based Honeywell, which uses Chinese-made components. InfoSecurity Magazine has more information here.
Newspapers Journalism and Regulation
In response to the tragic murder of Brianna Ghey, the Hacked Off blog has published an article calling for an end to the persecution of trans people by the British media. Read the full article here. IPSO is consulting on its draft guidance on reporting gender and sex identity, the Press Gazette reports.
The Information Law and Policy Centre blog has published an article on the developments at the United Nations (UN) regarding the safety of journalists. The development of technology has meant that journalists are increasingly subject to online violence for the work that they do. This is particularly true for women who are being targeted and are vulnerable to such attacks as outlined in a recent International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and UNESCO report.
The press regulator Impress has launched its new Standards Code on 16 February 2023, adding revisions that hold publishers to stricter standards on discrimination and prepare for the rollout of artificial intelligence in newsrooms. The Press Gazette has more information here.
There are no new IPSO rulings this week.
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
There were no statements in open court this week.
New Issued Cases
There were no new cases issued on the Media and Communications list last week.
Last Week in the Courts
On Monday 13 February 2023, there was an application in the case of Byrne v Motorsport Vision Racing Ltd and others.
On 16 February 2023 there was a statement in open court in the case of Paul and Clare Wylie v Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited before Chamberlain J.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
HarperCollins has failed in a bid to have Australia’s highest court rule on legal issues in a defamation case over controversial psychiatric treatments at Sydney’s Chelmsford private hospital. On 17 February 2023, the high court refused special leave to appeal two aspects of a federal court decision overturning an earlier judgment. That earlier judgment found claims in Steve Cannane’s book Fair Game: The Incredible Untold Story of Scientology in Australia were substantially true. The Guardian has more information here.
ClubsNSW has dropped criminal contempt charges against YouTuber Jordan Shanks over an interview with whistleblower Troy Stolz. Clubs had initiated contempt proceedings against Shanks last year after he published an interview titled “The Legal way to take a life”, in which Stolz detailed his battle with cancer and the impact of his bitter federal court dispute with his former employer ClubsNSW. The Guardian has more information here.
On 15 February 2023, judgment was handed down in McDonald v Goranko, 2023 BCSC 231 (CanLII). The claim relates to allegations of sexual assault. The claimant successfully established that the harm suffered as a result of the defendant’s expression is sufficiently serious that the public interest in permitting this defamation proceeding to continue outweighs the public interest in protecting the defendant’s expression.
The Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that the use of Palantir surveillance software by police in Hesse and Hamburg is unconstitutional. In the case, the German Society for Civil Rights argued the software could be used for predictive policing. The court said, “in terms of both the data and the methods concerned, the grounds for interference fall far short of the constitutionally required threshold of an identifiable danger.” Euractiv has more information here.
It has emerged that the mobile phone of MEP Nikos Androulakis, a member of an opposition party PASOK, had spyware installed “during a routine cybersecurity check” by IT Services in Brussels. In Greece, the ruling New Democracy claimed the surveillance of opposition politicians, journalists and other civic leaders was lawful. The opposition Syriza party said it will abstain from parliamentary votes until a national election is held, in wake of the scandal. The Brussels Times has more information here.
Filmmakers have obtained a subpoena to reveal the identities of Redditors who commented on piracy-related topics. The comments can provide relevant evidence in support of a repeat infringer lawsuit against ISP RCN, the companies argue. Reddit disagrees and frames the effort as a fishing expedition that is at odds with the right to anonymous speech. TorrentFreak has more information here.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently issued an opinion in Pino v Cardone Capital, LLC that followed the Eleventh Circuit ruling in Wildes v BitConnect, finding that if a person promotes the sale of a security on social media, that person may qualify as a “seller” under Section 12 of the Security Act of 1933. The Norton Rose Fulbright Blog has more information here.
Research and Resources
- Helberger and Diakopoulos, ChatGPT and the AI Act (2023), Internet Policy Review 12(1)
- Kenney, Cortelyou C., Defamation 2.0 (2023), Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Vol. 56(1)
- Park, Eunice, The AI Bill of Rights: A Step in the Right Direction (2023), Orange County Lawyer Magazine, Vol. 65(2)
- McBride, Nicholas, ‘A Straightforward Case of Nuisance’: A Note on Fearn v Tate Gallery  UKSC 4 (2023) University of Cambridge – Faculty of Law
- Waldman, Ari Ezra, Gender Data in the Automated Administrative State (2023), Columbia Law Review, Vol. 124 (Forthcoming)
Next Week in the Courts
On 20 to 23 February 2023 Heather Williams J will hear the trial in the case of Hay v Cresswell.
On the same day HHJ Lewis will hand down judgment in the case of Jackson v Surridge and Richard Spearman QC will hear an application in the case of Delo v Wise Payments.
On 21 to 23 February 2023 Chamberlain J will hear applications in the case of AEP and others v The Labour Party (QB-2021-001074)
On 22 February 2023 there will be a hearing in the case of VLM v LPB (KB-2023-000117).
On 23 February 2023 there will be a hearing in the case of Frati v Bowen Carter (QB-2021-002600).
Banks v Cadwalladr, heard 7 February 2023 (Sharp P, Singh and Warby LJJ)
Amersi v Leslie, heard 10 January 2023 (Nicklin J)
Aaronson v Stones, heard 12-15 December 2022 (Julian Knowles J)
Shah v Ahmed, heard on 4 July 2022 (Collins Rice J)
LCG v OVD, heard on 4 May 2022 (Murray 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).