On 26 October 2023, the Online Safety Act received royal assent. The Act sets new obligations for how technology companies should “design, operate, and moderate their platforms.” Ofcom is charged with enforcing the law’s requirements on platforms and will release its codes of practice in three phases beginning 9 November 2023. The Government’s Press Release can be read here. The BBC has more information here.
On the same day, UK prime minister Rishi Sunak gave a speech on the AI Safety Summit to be hosted in the UK on 1 and 2 November 2023. The summit will bring together representatives from large lab AI companies, world governments and civil society to discuss safety risks arising from frontier AI. The UK is setting up an AI Safety Institute that will be charged with examining, evaluating and testing new types of AI to better understand the capabilities of each new model. It will publish research on these risks so that governments can make appropriate regulatory policy responses. AI experts from the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, have responded to Sunak’s speech.
The Metropolitan police commissioner Mark Rowley responded to criticism from the Home Secretary Suella Braverman of his force’s decision not to makes arrests for shouts of “jihad” at an anti-Israel protest. Rowley said the police cannot enforce “taste and decency”. Number 10 has confirmed there are no plans to change the law to help police crackdown on pro-Palestine demonstrators calling for “jihad” against Israel, Sky News reports.
The Brett Wilson Media and Communication blog has an article exploring how the courts are handling sexual misconduct defamation hearings six years on from the start of the #MeToo movement.
The Strasbourg Observes blog has an article on the recent ECtHR decision of Lenis v Greece 47833/20, in which the Court ruled for the first time that an applicant could not invoke Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights to escape conviction for a serious case of hate speech against sexual minorities; his request amounted to an attempt to abuse the Convention and thus damage the core values that lie behind it.
Internet and Social Media
A study of 500 information technology specialists in the UK found one-third of professionals have not received any artificial intelligence training and nearly half have no workplace policies for the technology, Infosecurity Magazine reports. Nearly all specialists said they were worried about their organization’s ambitions for AI because of inadequate preparation.
Data Privacy and Data Protection
The Hawk Talk blog raised four serious questions that arise from the recent decision ICO v Clearview AI  UKFTT 819, handed down on 17 October 2023. The tribunal reversed a fine imposed on Clearview AI, a facial image database service, on the basis that the (UK) GDPR did not apply to the processing of personal data by the company.
On 25 October 2023, the ICO said former NatWest CEO Alison Rose had infringed Nigel Farage’s data rights when she discussed the former Brexit party leader’s relationship with the bank with a BBC journalist. Two days later, in response to Ms Rose’s concern about the reporting of her role in the matters brought to the ICO by Mr Farage, the ICO acknowledged that they did not investigate a complaint against Ms Rose nor give her an opportunity to comment on any findings in relation to her role. In a statement, the ICO conceded that it would have been appropriate to do so.
The Parliamentary Science, Innovation and Technology Committee is seeking public comment on how to improve critical cybersecurity infrastructure. The call for insight comes after the UK’s Electoral Commission was hacked and voter data was exposed. Comments should be submitted by 10 November 2023.
The New York Times reports on the race to develop stronger encryption techniques as the field of quantum computing continues to advance. The technology could bring substantial change to the medicine and artificial intelligence fields by reducing the time and power needed to run complex simulations, but it poses a major risk to privacy and data security.
The outgoing biometrics and surveillance commissioner Fraser Sampson has called the UK government’s plans to remove safeguards around biometrics and public space surveillance as “tantamount to vandalism.” Sampson warned “the loss of regulation and oversight in this key area comes just as the evolution of AI-driven biometric surveillance makes it more important than ever.” The Record has more information here.
- 14049-23 Kausar v manchestereveningnews.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 14050-23 Kausar v express.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2021), No breach – after investigation
- 19593-23 Jordan-Gill v bournemouthecho.co.uk, 1 Accuracy (2021), Breach – sanction: publication of correction
- 20255-23 White v The Daily Telegraph, 1 Accuracy (2021), Breach – sanction: action as offered by publication
Statements in Open Court and Apologies
We are not aware of any statements read out in open court or apologies from the last week.
New Issued Cases
There was one defamation (libel and slander) claim, one harassment claim, one injunction claim and one data protection claim filed on the media and communication list last week.
Last Week in the Courts
On Wednesday 25 October 2023 there was a committal hearing in the case of Kent Police v Taylor before Steyn J. Judgment was given on 27 October 2023 ( EWHC 2687 (QB)). The Judge made a finding of contempt and adjourned the penalty hearing.
On Thursday 26 October 2023 there was a hearing on meaning in the defamation case of Noel Clarke v Guardian News and Media. 5RB have more information here. The Press Gazette, Independent, Sky News, Evening Standard and Variety also report the hearing.
Media Law in Other Jurisdictions
The Australian Government has formally responded to the Attorney-General’s report on the new Australian Privacy Act, indicating it will adopt the vast majority of the 116 recommendations from the AG’s Department. DLA Piper has more information here.
Bruce Lehrmann has been revealed as the “high-profile” man accused of raping a woman in Toowoomba two years ago. Lehrmann can now be named after his lawyers lost their judicial review of a Toowoomba magistrate’s ruling that he should not be granted a non-publication order to maintain his anonymity. The Guardian has more information here.
Dr Janice Duffy successfully finished her 12-year legal battle with Google after it published defamatory extracts from American website RipOff Report on its search engine page, despite her notifying the company and asking for the posts to be removed. Dr Duffy reached a confidential settlement with the company which would pay her damages and legal costs, ABC News reports.
An Australian company found to have helped keep the notorious forum Kiwi Farms accessible online has been ordered to pay more than $400,000 in damages after a successful defamation action in the Victorian supreme court. Kiwi Farms has had a well-documented history of sparking campaigns of doxing, often targeting LBGTQ+ people. This latest ruling raises questions about who is responsible for harmful online speech. The Guardian has more information here.
On 28 October 2023, the Palestinian telecommunication company Jawwal announced that mobile phone and internet services have been shut off by Israel as airstrikes continue. Reuters, Wired, Sky News and Al Jazeera have more information.
Patrick Reed’s $750m (£618m) defamation lawsuits against golf reporters and media outlets has been dismissed by a federal judge in Florida. The BBC has more information here.
Research and Resources
- Antoniou, Alexandros, The MeToo Movement and the Public Interest Defense in Libel (2023), Entertainment Law Review (2023) Vol. 34, Issue 6
- Bartholomew, Mark, A Right to Be Left Dead (2023), California Law Review, Forthcoming
- Erdos, David, The Draft Data Protection (Fundamental Rights and Freedoms) Amendment Regulations: Arguably Partially Ultra Vires and Liable to Undercut the UK’s International Commitments (2023), University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 26/2023
- Barczentewicz, Mikolaj, Schrems III: Gauging the Validity of the GDPR Adequacy Decision for the United States (2023), International Center for Law & Economics Issue Brief 2023-09-25
- Lahmann, Henning, Algorithmic Warfare, Spontaneity, and the Denial of the Right to Self-Determination (2023), Leiden University – Centre for Law and Digital Technologies; New York University (NYU) – NYU Law School, Hauser Global Law School Program; University of Geneva – Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights
Next Week in the Courts
On Tuesday 31 October 2023 there will be a hearing in the case of Webster -v- Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs.
On Wednesday 1 November 2023 there will be a CMC in the case of Daedone -v- BBC.
On 1 November 2023 the UK Supreme Court will hear the appeal by Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, a senior and prominent member of the Muslim community in the UK who was a founding member of the Muslim Council of Britain and served as the vice chairman of the East London Mosque. The defamation proceedings relate to the publication of a Report by the Home Office in October 2019, which contained allegations of war crimes during the Bangladeshi War of Independence in 1971 and linked Mr Mueen-Uddin to extremism in the UK. The Supreme Court is to decide whether the Court of Appeal was correct to strike out the claim as an abuse of process. Read the Supreme Court case summary here. Carter Ruck has a summary here.
On Thursday 2 November 2023 there will be a hearing in the case of Blake and others -v- Fox.
On Friday 3 November 2023 there will be a hearing in the case of Gottlieb -v- Nicholas.
Clarke v Guardian News & Media Ltd, heard 26 October 2023 (Johnson J)
George v Cannell and another, heard 17-18 October 2023 (Supreme Court)
Trump v Orbis Intelligence, head 16 October 2023 (Steyn J)
Harcombe v Associated Newspapers, heard 3 to 7 and 10 to 11 July 2023 (Nicklin J)
YSL v Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, heard 14-15 June 2023 (Julian Knowles J)
MBR Acres v FREE THE MBR BEAGLES, heard 24-28 April 2023, 2-5, 9, 11-12, 15, 17-18, 22-23 May 2023 (Nicklin J)
Various Claimants v Associated Newspapers, heard 27 to 30 March 2023 (Nicklin J)
Crosbie v Ley, heard 21 and 22 March 2023 (Julian Knowles J)
Duke of Sussex v Associated Newspapers Limited, heard 17 March 2023 (Nicklin 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).