The end of the kiss and tell story? – PJS v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2016] UKSC 26

The case of PJS concerned an application for an interlocutory injunction. PJS was well known in the entertainment business and married to YMA, who was similarly well known. They had young children. In 2007 or 2008 PJS met AB and had occasional sexual encounters with them despite AB having a partner, CD. In December 2011 PJS had a three-way sexual encounter with AB and CD following which the sexual relationship with PJS and AB came to an end. Continue reading

Copyright

Copyright under English law is primarily established under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. Copyright can extend to protect videos and images taken by you on your devices.

In such circumstances, these videos and images are protected 70 years from the end of the life of the taker. This can function to protect photographs and videos that you have taken from use by third parties. By enforcing your copyright ownership you can control who has the right to use and edit the images and/or footage in question. This is usually in the form of a cease and desist letter notifying the third party of your ownership of the material whilst asking that they stop usage as soon as possible.

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Press complaints

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (“IPSO”) has its own Editors’ Code of Practice applicable to signatory newspapers. This currently includes most commercial papers.

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The ISPO Code contains a framework for professional standards within the press and is the cornerstone of the voluntary-self regulatory regime entered into by publishers. Editors and publishers are responsible to adherence with the Code and complaints can be made to IPSO should any violations be made. Continue reading

The right to be forgotten does not apply to search engine results globally

On 24 September 2019 the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) handed down judgment in the case of Google v CNIL C-507/17. The effect of the case was that right to be forgotten requests only need be applied to domain names of Member States and not extra-territorially globally. The case, therefore, has implications for the processing and effectiveness of the right to be forgotten requests, particularly for requestors who seek de-listing of search results from multiple non-EU jurisdictions. Notably, the administrative burden upon search engine operators has been limited by the ruling.light smartphone macbook mockup Continue reading

Ben Stokes and Gareth Thomas in the press – Protecting privacy in the spotlight

Many will have heard of the Sun’s recent egregious intrusion into the private and family life of cricketer Ben Stokes. The offending article by the Sun delves into the family life of the famous cricketer in a manner which could be seen to breach the privacy rights of Stokes and his family.

The incident has placed the conduct of English journalists, particularly the Sun, under the spotlight. INFORRM has an excellent post on the issue.

Stokes statement on the article, released on Twitter, can be found here.

Many will also be aware of the exposing of rugby player Gareth Thomas’ HIV status following black mail attempts. This move is highly invasive and could be considered a misuse of private information.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has commented on the incidents. This notes how the Editor’s Code operates to protect individuals in such scenarios and condemns the sensationalist headlines of articles  intruding upon privacy rights.

Revisiting the right to be forgotten, the NT1 and NT2 case

The right to be forgotten or right to erasure under data protection legislation and enshrined from the Google Spain case allows significant protection of information regarding the individual. In this post, we consider the seminal case of NT1 and NT2 which is illustrative of this fact. Continue reading

Privacy concerns around Amazon’s Ring

“A home security product upscaled and diversified into law enforcement and integrated with facial recognition software brings with it some serious privacy concerns.”

What is the Ring?

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The Ring is Amazon’s bestselling smart security device product line. The most notable of which is the Ring doorbell which allows users to monitor movement by their front doors, video and receive mobile notifications whenever someone presses the doorbell. Users can also benefit from an App which is installed on their mobile, monitors local news and allows social media style sharing with other Ring users.

Ring additionally offers security services, cross-selling into the wider security service market.

Ring and law enforcement  

Recent controversy was sparked when it was found that the Ring in partnering with over 400 police departments in the United States. The extent of the Ring’s collaborative efforts extend to targeting ad words to users encouraging that they share live video feed footage with law enforcement. This in and of itself is a significant extension in police surveillance meriting further legislative scrutiny.

However, pair this with the fact that the Ring may integrate and encourage the use of the Amazon’s Rekognition facial recognition software product and the companies dubbing of the service as “the new neighborhood watch”- it becomes all the more disconcerting.

It is well-established that people’s likeness is considered personal data and that the recording of individuals without their consent is potentially invasive. There are also civil liberties concerns regarding the police acquiring these live video feeds for their own use.

This has drawn the attention of the Senator for Massachusetts, Edward Markey, who recently published a letter sent to Amazons CEO Jeffery Bezos, highlighting civil liberties concerns with the Ring. This highlights issues previously raised in the United Kingdom in relation to the use of facial recognition software; its potential to racially profile individuals. Whilst this was considered by the Administrative Court to be too an intangible argument lacking sufficient supporting data, further scrutiny would be most welcome.

And it looks like further scrutiny seems forthcoming. In his letter Senator Markey highlights 10 key concerns around the Ring system, demanding a response from the Amazon CEO by 26 September 2019. We highly recommend readers consider the letter in its entirety here.

Breach of confidence

Breach of confidence occurs when confidential information, as shared between parties in a manner which is confidential, is shared with a third party in breach of that duty of confidence. What imposes the duty to protect the information in a breach of confidence case is a pre-existing confidential relationship between the parties.

The case of Coco v A.N. Clark involved the claimant looking to bring a new form of moped to the market, parts of which were then sourced from a third party in breach of obligations of confidence. This case underpinned the three elements of the tort and highlights the most common scenario breach of confidence claims arise in; those involving business secrets and negotiations.

In relation to privacy breach of confidence tends to cover confidential conversations and communications where the nature of the information itself attracts a reasonable expectation of privacy. This may relate to communications with lawyers or medical professionals, for example.

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Defamation

Defamation seeks to protect the individuals’ reputation from false statements which harm or may harm it. Slander and libel (more permanent forms of communication) refer to a statement publicized to a third party which has or is likely to cause serious harm to their reputation.

Defamation is a construct of the common law, built up over a series of legal cases. Defamation cases have been held to extend to social media, such as to tweets made by Katie Hopkins to food writer Jack Monroe.

Thornton v Telegraph Media Group Ltd [2011] EWHC 159 (QB) highlighted that defamation claims often cross the threshold to engage Article 8 privacy rights. In particular, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that:

“In order for Article 8 to come into play, however, an attack on a person’s reputation must attain a certain level of seriousness and in a manner causing prejudice to personal enjoyment of the right to respect for private life…”

Claimants have to show the statement at issue is likely to cause serious harm to their reputation per s.1 Defamation Act 2013. This is typically via evidence such as circulation, subscribers and views of the statement at issue.

The defenses available to defamation are:

  1. Truth: That the statement itself was substantially true.
  2. Honest opinion: That the statement was one of opinion and that an honest person could have reasonably held that opinion.
  3. Public interest: That the matter was one which was in the public interest and the publisher of the statement reasonably believed it to be so.
  4. Privilege: This can be absolute (such as a Parliamentary statement) or qualified (e.g. job references). Qualified privilege does not protect the publisher of a statement where it was done so maliciously.