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ICO consulting on possible data protection code of practice for the press

February 19th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Legal

ICO consultation doc data protection

Last week the Information Commissioner’s Office launched a “short public consultation” on proposals for a code of practice for the press in the Data Protection Act.

According to the ICO website this follows a recommendation from Lord Justice Leveson for the ICO to “prepare and issue comprehensive good practice guidelines and advice on appropriate principles and standards to be observed by the press in the processing of personal data”.

The consultation was sent out last week, and closes on Friday 15 March. The ICO website states:

This short public consultation on the likely scope and content of the proposed ICO code of practice is an important first step in ensuring our stakeholders have an opportunity to let us know their views and engage in constructive dialogue to develop a common understanding of how data protection legislation applies to the media. This will be followed by a full public consultation on the code itself.

In the consultation document the ICO adds:

The code will not contain any new legal duties – the purpose of such codes is to promote good practice and observance of the requirements of the Data Protection Act by data controllers. Depending upon decisions by the government about possible reform of the law, this guidance may require further review. However, we accept that it is important to produce guidance now, as recommended by Lord Justice Leveson.

Hatip: International Forum for Responsible Media blog.

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How to respond to consultation on website operators clause of draft defamation bill

January 8th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal
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Image by alancleaver_2000 on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

An informal consultation on the section of the draft defamation bill that covers “operators of websites” has been launched to gather feedback.

According to The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog, the consultation relates to clause 5 of the bill which intends to “provide a new defence for website operators in circumstances where the claimant can pursue his claim for defamation against the person who posted the statement”.

The consultation, being run by the Ministry of Justice, will close on Thursday 31 January (the deadline has been extended).

Those who wish to respond can do so by emailing defamation@justice.gsi.gov.uk for more information.

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Media release: Libel reform campaigners respond to Queen’s Speech

May 9th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal, Politics

The Libel Reform Campaign announced a “victory” today as the Queen’s Speech confirmed legislation will be introduced in the next 12 months to reform defamation law.

The campaign issued a number of comments from those involved in the campaign, some of which are listed below:

Tracey Brown, managing director, Sense About Science:

We and thousands of others have campaigned to stop the libel laws’ bullying and chilling effects on discussions about health, scientific research, consumer safety, history and human rights. We are really pleased to see the government has moved closer to honouring its promise of a fairer law and protection of free speech in today’s Queen’s Speech. This opens the way to developing a law guided by public interest not powerful interests.

Simon Singh, defendant in British Chiropractic Association v Singh:

I continue to be contacted by journalists, scientists and others who are being silenced by libel threats or libel claims. The reform promised in the Queen’s speech today is a welcome response to the intolerable effects of the current laws. I hope that the government will now move rapidly to bring forward a bill that protects those writing about serious matters in the public interest.

Jo Glanville, editor, Index on Censorship:

We have now have a chance for libel legislation that’s fit for the  21st century. The introduction of the single publication rule and greater protection for internet service providers will help to put an  end to the chilling effect online.

Justine Roberts, co-founder and CEO, Mumsnet:

While the draft Defamation Bill was a very good start, it didn’t go far enough to protect freedom of expression, particularly in the online environment. Websites and hosts of user-generated comment risk becoming tactical targets for those who wish to clamp down on criticism or investigation of their activities.

Philip Campbell PhD, editor-in-chief, Nature:

It is essential to the public trust in science that scientific integrity is upheld and that bad behaviour is brought to light. It is therefore imperative that libel legislation be revised to achieve a better balance of interests between those accused of misconduct and those who should be better able to write about them.

Hardeep Singh, journalist and libel defendant:

The inclusion of the defamation bill in the Queen’s Speech marks a major milestone for The Libel Reform Campaign. It can’t be right that ordinary people risk their livelihoods when getting caught up in costly libel proceedings.

The government has already investigated ways to weed out unmeritorious claims, whereby claimants will have to show serious harm before a case progresses. If passed by Parliament, these types of amendments will not only make our libel laws fairer, but go some way in restoring London’s reputation from being a ‘town called sue’.

Till Sommer, Internet Service Providers Association:

ISPA welcomes the Government’s commitment to libel reform. The current regulatory framework has failed to provide clarity to hosting and Internet service providers and has ultimately has had a chilling effect on freedom of speech online. We hope that Parliament will address the current shortcomings in the upcoming session and we will follow the political process closely to ensure that the reforms strike the best possible compromise between protecting providers, claimants and authors.

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Norwegian tabloid newspaper offers readers a ‘Breivik-free’ online edition

April 19th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Legal, Online Journalism

Dagbladet, Norway’s second-largest tabloid newspaper, is offering its readers a ‘Breivik-free’ version of their website during the trial of Anders Behring Breivik.

By pressing a button at the top of the homepage marked “Forside uten 22. juli-saken”, readers can remove all mention of the high-profile trial.

Torry Pedersen, editor-in-chief of Verdens Gang, a Norwegian tabloid, told Journalisten.no that his paper considered the idea of having a similar button.

We toyed with the idea. We did the same – inspired by the Guardian – for the Prince’s wedding last year.

The Guardian’s liveblog of the Royal wedding in April 2011 featured a button on the home page which removed all coverage, leaving the reader with just the “proper news”.

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Friday deadline for core participant status for next Leveson inquiry module

March 26th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal

The judge leading the public inquiry into press ethics has called for applications for core participant status for module three of the Leveson inquiry, which will look at the relationship between the press and politicians.

Lord Justice Leveson is currently hearing module two of the inquiry, the relationship between the press and police, having heard evidence for module one, the relationship between the press and the public.

According to an announcement on the inquiry website applications for core participant status – which allows participants to be legally represented at the inquiry and have questions asked on their behalf – must be made by the end of Friday (30 March).

These applications and other issues will be considered at a directions hearing for module three to be held at 2pm on Tuesday, 2 April.

Module four will look at “recommendations for a more effective policy and regulation that supports the integrity and freedom of the press while encouraging the highest ethical standards”.

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Privacy injunction statistics published by Ministry of Justice as part of new pilot scheme

March 19th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal

On Thursday last week the Ministry of Justice published a new report of “experimental” statistics relating to the processing of privacy injunctions at the High Court or Court of Appeal. This follows a recommendation by the Master of the Rolls committee.

The statistics relate to injunctions dealt with in any civil proceedings in the High Court or Court of Appeal in London where the court considers an application for an injunction prohibiting the publication of private or confidential information, the continuation of such an injunction, or an appeal against the grant or refusal of such an injunction.

The report shows that from August to December last year there were four proceedings in the High Court which “considered an application for a new interim injunction”, three where the court “considered whether to continue or amend an interim injunction which had previously been granted” and two where the proceedings involved a consideration of “whether to issue a final, permanent injunction”.

The statistics do not cover injunctions arising from proceedings dealing with family issues, immigration or asylum issues, to proceedings which raise issues of national security, nor to most proceedings dealing with intellectual property and employment issues.

The four applications for new interim injunctions were all said to have been granted by the court.

At the Court of Appeal one further proceeding was also recorded involving “an appeal against a grant or refusal of an interim or final injunction”.

According to the International Forum for Responsible Media (Inforrm) blog, which has looked at the statistics in more detail here, “none of these cases appear to have involved threatened media publication” as “no media defendants were joined”.

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Met police representatives and crime reporters before Leveson inquiry this week

March 12th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Legal

Copyright: Sean Dempsey/PA

The Leveson inquiry moves into week three of module two today, starting with evidence from Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick of the Metropolitan Police and Sir Dennis O’Connor, head of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.

On Tuesday Dick Fedorcio, director of communications at the Met Police, will give appear before the inquiry.

It is expected that Fedorcio will be asked about his relationship with journalists at News International and also about the advice he gave senior officers on socialising with journalists.

On Wednesday morning Jeff Edwards, representing the Crime Reporters’ Association, will give evidence, along with journalists from the Guardian, the Independent and the Times. A written statement from a Daily Telegraph journalist will be read.

On the last day of this week’s hearings evidence will be heard from the Sun’s Mike Sullivan, who was named in the press as one of four current and former journalists at the Sun arrested and bailed by officers from Operation Elveden on Saturday, 28 January.

See the full witness list here.

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New German law may impose fees on aggregated content use

March 8th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism, Legal, Online Journalism

Germany’s governing centre-right coalition has proposed a new copyright law which would see content aggregators such as Google News paying royalties every time they index search results from news websites.

The proposal, which is available (in German) on the German Press Agency’s website states:

Commercial traders out there, such as search engines and news aggregators, should pay a fee to the publishers in the future for the distribution of press products (such as newspaper articles) on the internet.

Citing the German government’s original agreement, which states that online publishers “are not meant to be worse off” than other industries, the legislators suggest that the fee period should last for one year.

The fee proposals do not cover individuals using the material for private purposes and private users “will not be affected” by the proposal to charge for access.

Google has previously been sued for copyright infringement by French publishing houses Albin Michel, Flammarion and Gallimard, after the search giant scanned nearly 10,000 books for its Google Books site without permission.

The publishers later dropped their case against Google, saying they wanted to seek an “amicable solution to the litigation”.

In a similar copyright dispute in the UK, the Court of Appeal rejected arguments from the Public Relationships Consultants Association and news clippings service Meltwater that exemptions to copyright law could be applied to the content of newspaper websites, according to law firm Pinsent Masons.

In the UK, users of a clipping service must now have a licence from publishers to click on links taking them to a news website to avoid infringing the publishers’ copyrights, says Pinsent Masons.

A copyright tribunal said:

We reject the argument that requiring end user licensing under the WEUL (the Web End User Licence issued by the NLA), and at the same rates as the WEUL, is unreasonable.”

If Meltwater want to offer a headline only service to their end users they are free to do so but the service must be licensed in the same way as the headline plus text extract service.”

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Media release: New edition of McNae’s to launch at NCTJ seminar

February 22nd, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Legal, Training

The 21st edition of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists will be launched next month, at the NCTJ’s media law seminar.

According to a release from the NCTJ, the new edition of the media law book includes a further look at issues such as:

… new coverage of broadcast regulation; new material on privacy and the media, including injunctions and phone hacking; new guidance on journalists’ use of social media; and further coverage of online journalism issues.

The book is authored by Mark Hanna and Mike Dodd, the release adds, who “will present and discuss these changes with tutors at the seminar”.

Press Complaints Commission chairman Lord Hunt will give the keynote speech at the London-based media law seminar on 30 March. According to the NCTJ, he will be giving “his views on the Leveson inquiry and the future of press regulation”.

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Guardian: Ryan Giggs named in court as injunction footballer

Copyright: Martin Rickett/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Ryan Giggs has been named in court for the first time as the footballer behind an injunction taken out against the Sun, the Guardian reports.

According to the news site, the footballer “agreed to lift the anonymity injunction” in a hearing at the high court in London earlier today.

Giggs took out the injunction in order to prevent the tabloid revealing an affair.

Thousands ignored the court ruling and named him as the footballer in question on Twitter, leaving journalists in a “strange situation” concerning the reporting of his name.

The Guardian states:

Hugh Tomlinson QC, counsel for Giggs, told the court that the footballer had been subject to “large scale breaches of the order by malign individuals”.

“The claimant’s name is in the public domain contrary to court orders,” he added. “The claimant has consented to the removal of the anonymity order completely.”

Mr Justice Tugendhat said: “Anonymity no longer applies and has not applied since 1 February.”

According to the Guardian, Mr Justice Tugendhat is considering “a claim by Giggs for damages for alleged misuse of private information by the Sun”.

Giggs is also seeking an injunction “to restrain future publication of private information”, according to the report.

The court heard that the anonymity order that prevented the media from naming Giggs was lifted on 1 February. However, an “administrative error” by Giggs’s solicitors meant the Sun was not informed.

The counsel for News Group Newspapers, the publisher of the Sun, reportedly told the court the injunction claim should be thrown out.

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