Tag Archives: privacy

Inforrm: Important privacy hearing begins over image publishing

The potentially important privacy hearing of Von Hannover and Springer v Germany began yesterday at the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights regarding the publication of photographs by the media. The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog has provided a copy of the second media intervention in the case from the Media Legal Defence Initiative, the International Press Institute and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.

In the submission the organisations detail the current protections for privacy and freedom of expression across Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Poland and Sweden, as well as touching on New Zealand as a comparison.

They conclude that the court should “focus on the principles adopted by domestic courts in balancing Articles 8 and 10 … while affording a wide margin of appreciation to Council of Europe member states in determining the precise balance between such rights in individual cases”.

In particular, the organisations submit that, unless the weights attributed to the factors taken into account by the national courts in performing this balancing act are manifestly inappropriate and therefore result in a decision which clearly falls outside the member state’s margin of appreciation, the findings of local courts in favour of free expression should be “set aside” only if they are shown to be clearly arbitary or summarily dismissive of the privacy/reputational interests at stake. To do otherwise would be wrong in principle, for the reasons given, and would have severe practical consequences for parties, the Court and the domestic implementation of the Convention through national measures.

California signs new anti-paparazzi legislation into law

California has signed into law legislation which seeks to provide new remedies for invasion of privacy and higher penalties for reckless driving by members of the paparrazi.

The new measures will mean that photographers can be sentenced to up to a year in prison for reckless driving while trying to photograph or film people. The law will come into effect at the start of January, according to a post on by the International Forum for Responsible Media Blog.

Inforrm also refers to Clause 1(b) which clarifies liabilities for invasion of privacy in reference to surveillance techniques:

A person is liable for constructive invasion of privacy when the defendant attempts to capture, in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person, any type of visual image, sound recording,or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a personal or familial activity under circumstances in which the plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of privacy, through the use of a visual or auditory enhancing device, regardless of whether there is a physical trespass, if this image, sound recording, or other physical impression could not have been achieved without a trespass unless the visual or auditory enhancing device was used.

Reporters Without Borders joins Le Monde in complaint against Sarkozy’s office

Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has announced it will become a joint plaintiff in a complaint filed by French newspaper Le Monde, which accuses government officials of violating new legislation intended to protect the secrecy of journalists’ sources.

Le Monde claims that an intelligence service was used by the French President’s office to identify a source used in a story on L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and donations made to President Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign.

Full story on RSF at this link…

Inforrm: European Court of Human Rights privacy case may provide clarity for media

For those following the privacy case of Von Hannover and Springer v Germany, due to be heard by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in October, the International Forum for Responsible Media blog offers a neat summary and full copy of the submission made by the Media Lawyers Association.

The case, which Inforrm says is likely to result in an important clarification of the relationship between Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) and the media, is based on two complaints over the publication of information or images relating to an individual. The first – Von Hannover – refers to a complaint by Princess Caroline of Monaco against photographs taken of herself and her husband on holiday, one of which made it into the press before she took out an injunction, while the second – Springer – is a complaint by publishing group Axel Springer over a ban on reporting the arrest and criminal conviction of an actor.

In a useful summary of the MLA Submission, Inforrm provides the following bullet points:

  • Article 8 does not create or require the creation of an “image right”.
  • Publication of a person’s photograph (or image) does not, of itself, necessarily engage their Article 8 rights’ whether this is so depends upon all the circumstances; a certain level of seriouness is required before there will be any interference with the right.
  • The right to reputation is not a Convention right.  Publication of a defamatory statement about a person does not, of itself, interfere with their Article 8 rights.
  • It is vital, in any balance between the Convention rights under Articles 8 and 10, that media reporting upon all matters of public interest or public concern is strongly protected.
  • The reporting of court proceedings (in particular, criminal proceedings) requires wide and strong protection.

See Inforrm’s background to the case here…

#iq2privacy: Privacy, the press, and Max Mosley

Journalism.co.uk will be at tonight’s ‘Sex, bugs and videotape’ debate organised by Intelligence Squared. Given this week’s renewed focus on phone hacking at the News of the World and debates on the privacy of footballers and public interest, tonight’s proceedings are pretty timely.

Proposing the motion that the private lives of public figures deserve more protection from the press will be Rachel Atkins, a partner at Schillings law firm; and Max Mosley, no stranger to the News of the World and secret videotaping himself.

Speaking against the motion are Tom Bower, journalist and author of books on Robert Maxwell and Richard Desmond; and Ken MacDonald QC, defence lawyer and former director of public prosecutions.

You can follow tweets from the event with the hashtag #iq2privacy or in the liveblog below:

Sex, bugs and videotape – privacy and the media debate

Inforrm Blog: Wayne Rooney and the public interest defence

Following the William Hague allegations sparked from posts within the blogging community last week, this weekend the media spotlight turned to Wayne Rooney as allegations relating to his private life were brought into the public domain by the News of the World and the Sunday Mirror, both appers accusing the footballer of having an affair with a prostitute.

In response, the International Forum for Responsible Media blog has posted an interesting analysis of the issues raised by the press coverage. These mainly centre on the distinction between a story which is argued to be ‘in’ the public interest and one which is simply ‘of’ public interest – the latter of which would not theoretically afford the same justification for publication.

What takes place between Mr Rooney and Ms Thompson behind the closed doors of a hotel bedroom is, at first sight, private. It relates to an indisputable area of private life: sexual relations. Under the general law and the clause 3 of the PCC Code, its publication requires justification in terms of the public interest.

Looking at the newspapers’ references to a public interest in their own reports, the blog argues that in this case the coverage fails to provide such justification.

The central justification appears to be the familiar one that this conduct exposes the hypocrisy of Mr Rooney’s “crafting” of “a brand of happy family life that’s helped win big-money sponsorships and endorsements”. There are a number of difficulties with this argument (…) What false public pronouncements are actually being shown to be false?  A “brand of happy family life” – even if “carefully crafted” – is not, in itself, a public statement about conduct or morality.

(…) This kind of assertion is a patently inadequate basis to justify splashing someone’s private life across the pages of the national press.

Another issue raised by the blog post is that of the right of individuals to an advance warning. The author refers with some concern to a statement in the Mail on Sunday’s report on the allegations which claims Rooney’s lawyers were aware but decided not to battle the allegation due to previous “revelations” in the media.

We do not know whether this is correct. If it is it is an unfortunate reflection on the state of English privacy law – where it is thought to be impossible to restrain the publication of patently private information because of previous press publicity. If, on the other hand, Mr Rooney was not given proper notice then this would be further support for the arguments being advanced by Max Mosley in Strasbourg in favour of a legal obligation to give advance notice.

See the full post here…

Inforrm Blog: Are celebrity injunctions really a threat to press freedom?

The International Forum for Responsible Media blog adds to the ‘public interest versus privacy’ debate this week, following the issuing of what is understood to be three so-called ‘gagging orders’ this month to prevent the press from publishing information reportedly relating to footballers.

According to reports by the national press, including the Daily Mail, the Guardian and the Press Association, concern has grown over the threat to press freedom posed by such injunctions. In the most recent case, the information in question is reportedly from a stolen mobile phone. How can the measure of being ‘in’ the public interest be applied here, the Inforrm blog asks.

In these circumstances, it is difficult to see what the press are complaining about. Is it seriously being argued that they should be free to publish information derived from stolen mobile phones? If not, then why does the injunction “raise concerns” at all? Does it illustrate a “threat to press freedom” or, rather, the unthinking press reaction to any kind of injunction – which is condemned without any kind of thought or analysis.

The press might like to consider the following question. Does the fact that there have been three privacy injunctions in August illustrate a growing threat to freedom of the press or does it show that, despite the best efforts of the PCC, certain newspapers continue to be in the market for private information the publication of which has no public interest justification?

Earlier this month, according to a report by the Daily Telegraph, Justice Minister Lord McNally said there is a “general consensus” in favour of a law that “clarifies, consolidates and removes some of the more dangerous aspects” of privacy law. But others argued that current legislation was sufficient and that a defence of public interest will often fail to stand up against injunctions preventing the publication of celebrities’ private information.

See the full post here…

Vanessa Perroncel speaks out against super-injunctions

Vanessa Perroncel, the woman alleged to have had an affair with former England captain John Terry – an allegation she denies – has given newspaper interviews this weekend in which she condemns both the use of gagging orders by celebrities and the tabloid media coverage of the affair allegations.

In an interview with the Independent on Sunday, Perroncel said people should not be able to pick and choose when they want a public profile in the media.

There are some people who enjoy the limelight, and they let the press have really intimate information, like weddings, baptisms and so on. So why should these people then be allowed to cherry pick what the newspapers write about them? I know how expensive it is to take out an injunction, and it’s not fair that footballers should be allowed to protect themselves because of their money.

Her comments follow John Terry’s use of a ‘super-injunction’ in February against the News of the World which temporarily stopped the newspaper from publishing allegations of the affair. The order, which was later lifted, made it appear as though they had something to hide, Perroncel says.

She says she is angry that Terry took an injunction out, as she felt it was disproportionate. “There was no need: a simple denial would have done,” she says. “People said I had been gagged but that wasn’t true.” She is angry at the damage the allegations did to her reputation, and at the red-top intrusion she suffered. But she believes newspapers should be free to report genuine cases of infidelity.

She discusses the damage to her reputation further in an interview with the Guardian writer Polly Vernon, who herself concludes that the model was “ripped apart” by the media – the only party who should feel guilt for the way the story played out, she adds.

I am shocked at the wrong that’s been done to Vanessa. Whether or not you believe her denials – and oh, it’s tempting, isn’t it, to keep believing the worst, the most malicious rumours. But Perroncel did not deserve those months of unmitigated trashing. And now it’s calmed down for her somewhat, I’m not sure what she’s got left. (…) There is still, it seems, an overwhelming sense that she has done wrong somehow, somewhere along the line; that she has committed some crime. We’re extremely attached to that idea as a nation. Yet if anyone should be feeling guilty, it’s probably us.

According to Vernon’s article, Perroncel is now planning to take legal action against any publication which printed “unpleasant” stories about her in relation to the accusations. It is also reported that an “official inquiry” has been launched into claims her phone may have been tapped to intercept private calls.

Telegraph: Footballer wins high court injunction against tabloid story

The Sunday Telegraph and Telegraph.co.uk reports that a Premier League footballer has won a high court injunction preventing publication of claims about him in a Sunday tabloid.

The ruling was obtained from Mr Justice Nicol, says the paper, and adds to recent debate about UK privacy laws, freedom of the press and injunctions, as raised by the cases of Max Mosley and John Terry.

Full story on the Telegraph website at this link…

Washington Post: Should non-disclosure policy on sexual orientation continue?

From the Washington Post’s Ombudsman Blog, a frank discussion about the Post’s policy to not disclose a person’s sexual orientation if it is not deemed relevant to the story. Last month middle-school teacher Brian Betts was murdered and the Post held firm on not mentioning his sexual orientation even after the police revealed that it might be connected to his death.

Defining ‘relevant’ is the challenge. It can be relevant if a closeted gay lawmaker promotes anti-gay legislation. And I felt it was relevant to disclose that Betts was gay, especially because the circumstances of his murder were similar to others locally and nationally.

Full story at this link…