Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Human Rights and Internet Access: ECHR Chamber Ruling

Human Rights and Internet Access Ruling: "The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that restriction of Internet access without a strict legal framework regulating the scope of the ban and affording the guarantee of judicial review to prevent possible abuses amounts to a violation of freedom of expression
In a Chamber judgment in the case of Ahmet Yildirm v Turkey (application no. 3111/10), the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned a court decision to block access to Google Sites, which hosted an Internet site whose owner was facing criminal proceedings for insulting the memory of Atatürk. As a result of the decision, access to all other sites hosted by the service was blocked.
It should be noted that this is a Chamber judgment and that it may be referred to the Grand Chamber during the next three-months but the very particular circumstances probably make such an appeal unlikely." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Leveson: the right solution to the wrong problem?

THE WRONG SOLUTION TO THE WRONG PROBLEM « Pandaemonium: " liberals and radicals... have vacated the space of free speech, allowing reactionaries to occupy it. In this the debate about press freedom mirrors that of free speech more broadly. There, too, reactionaries like Dutch politician Geert Wilders and the French Front National leader Marine le Pen have been able to promote themselves as martyrs to free speech. Why? Because liberals and the left have effectively given up on freedom of expression, taking to demanding more regulations and restrictions on unacceptable speech. Let us not repeat that mistake again." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 26 November 2012

UK press regulation: Lessons from Denmark?

BBC News - UK press regulation: Lessons from Denmark?: "As Lord Justice Leveson puts the finishing touches to his recommendations for a new method of regulating the press in Britain, could the Danish model of so-called co-regulation be an option for the UK?
It is many British newspapers' worst nightmare: A system where complaints from readers are handled by a press council set up by Act of Parliament, whose members are government-appointed, and which has the power to demand that erring titles be fined.
How can you possibly have that kind of government oversight and a free press? Yet that's exactly what they have in Denmark, a fully functioning democracy which values press freedom highly." 'via Blog this'

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Smith v ADVFN Plc & Ors [2008] EWHC 1797 (QB) (25 July 2008)

Smith v ADVFN Plc & Ors [2008] EWHC 1797 (QB) (25 July 2008):
"14. ...Particular characteristics which I should have in mind are that [bulletin boards] are read by relatively few people, most of whom will share an interest in the subject-matter; they are rather like contributions to a casual conversation (the analogy sometimes being drawn with people chatting in a bar) which people simply note before moving on; they are often uninhibited, casual and ill thought out; those who participate know this and expect a certain amount of repartee or "give and take".
15. The participants in these exchanges were mostly using pseudonyms (or "avatars"), so that their identities will often not be known to others. This is no doubt a disinhibiting factor affecting what people are prepared to say in this special environment.
17. It is this analogy with slander which led me in my ruling of 12 May to refer to "mere vulgar abuse", which used to be discussed quite often in the heyday of slander actions. It is not so much a defence that is unique to slander as an aspect of interpreting the meaning of words. From the context of casual conversations, one can often tell that a remark is not to be taken literally or seriously and is rather to be construed merely as abuse. That is less common in the case of more permanent written communication, although it is by no means unknown. But in the case of a bulletin board thread it is often obvious to casual observers that people are just saying the first thing that comes into their heads and reacting in the heat of the moment. The remarks are often not intended, or to be taken, as serious. A number of examples will emerge in the course of my judgment." 

And in summary:
"Are there really genuine issues which require to be resolved or is it the case, on the other hand, that this litigation when viewed as a whole [37 libel actions launched], and in its proper context, is such as to bring the administration of justice into disrepute? Is there really any legitimate or tangible advantage to be gained? ...I am fully entitled to take into account the nature of the issues as they appear at the moment and that I am entitled to protect the interests of the public purse and of the many defendants involved in the light of those clear impressions. Indeed, I have an obligation to ensure that the court's process is being used compatibly with the overriding objective. The court is today required to be more proactive in such matters, especially when dealing with a number of people who cannot afford legal advice to protect their best interests.
- ...It seems that there is the prospect of over 20 further libel actions. This makes it particularly appropriate for me to consider the matter referred to me by the Master on 25 April as to whether or not there is a case for a civil restraint order.... Opinions may be expressed in exaggerated and strident terms; the only requirement is that they be honestly held... It would be wasteful to let proceedings go forward merely on the footing of a series of formulaic assertions to the effect that the individual concerned did not honestly believe what he was saying. There is accordingly no realistic prospect of any such claims achieving the only legitimate goal of vindicating reputation.
- I would not suggest for a moment that blogging cannot ever form the basis of a legitimate libel claim. I am focusing only on these particular circumstances. It does seem to me appropriate to characterise these claims as totally without merit. I will therefore make an extended civil restraint order, which means that Mr Smith cannot launch any further libel proceedings arising out of the Langbar matter based upon bulletin board blogs without obtaining my written permission.

Pub cheap talk, eh? Reminds me of my extended comparison in the final chapter of 'Net Neutrality': 'via Blog this'

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Five Myths about Chinese Internet censorship

Five Myths about the Chinese Internet - By Eveline Chao | Foreign Policy: "In 2000, President Bill Clinton said: "There's no question China has been trying to crackdown on the Internet. Good luck! That's sort of like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall." But, as Ng put it, "China has the world's biggest nail gun."" 'via Blog this'

Defamation Bill 2012-13 — due before Lords Committee

Defamation Bill 2012-13 — UK Parliament: "The aim of the Bill is to reform the law of defamation to ensure that a fair balance is struck between the right to freedom of expression and the protection of reputation. The Bill makes a number of substantive changes to the law of defamation, but is not designed to codify the law into a single statute. Key areas:

  • includes a requirement for claimants to show that they have suffered serious harm before suing for defamation
  • removes the current presumption in favour of a jury trial
  • introduces a defence of "responsible publication on matters of public interest"
  • provides increased protection to operators of websites that host user-generated content, providing they comply with the procedure to enable the complainant to resolve disputes directly with the author of the material concerned
  • introduces new statutory defences of truth and honest opinion to replace the common law defences of justification. and fair comment." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Cairns v Modi [2012] EWHC 756 (QB) - the effect of Twitter publication

Cairns v Modi [2012] EWHC 756 (QB) (26 March 2012): "But although publication was limited, that does not mean that damages should be reduced to trivial amounts. In 1935, long before the internet was thought of, Lord Atkin said in Ley v Hamilton (153 L.T. 384, cited by Lord Reid in Broome v Cassell [1972] AC 1027 at 1092G): "It is precisely because the 'real' damage cannot be ascertained and established that the damages are at large. It is impossible to track the scandal, to know what quarters the poison may reach…""

'via Blog this'

Cairns v Modi [2012] - libel tourism?

Cairns v Modi [2012] EWHC 756 (QB) (26 March 2012): "Mr Ronald Thwaites QC for the Defendant described the case as an example of libel tourism. The criticism is misguided. The Claimant went to school in England, as did his children, and he played county cricket in England for Nottinghamshire in 7 seasons during a period of 15 years. The Defendant has since mid-2010 been resident in England. A trial in India would have involved very long delays. No application was made to stay the proceedings on "forum shopping" grounds, and if it had been I consider that it would have failed. The case is properly before the court in England." 'via Blog this'

Cairns v Modi [2012] 31 October - the Twitter 'grapevine effect' and libel

Cairns v Modi [2012] (31 October 2012): "Australian case law, where the convenient expression, "the grapevine effect" has been adopted: see e.g. Crampton v Nugawela [1996] NSWSC 651.
Mr Caldecott QC contended that with allegations of this scandalous nature it is likely nowadays that word will "percolate" by way of the Internet, and particularly in this case among those interested in cricket – not least because of the responsible position held by Mr Modi and the apparent authority of his words. Dealing with it generally, we recognise that as a consequence of modern technology and communication systems any such stories will have the capacity to "go viral" more widely and more quickly than ever before. Indeed it is obvious that today, with the ready availability of the world wide web and of social networking sites, the scale of this problem has been immeasurably enhanced, especially for libel claimants who are already, for whatever reason, in the public eye. In our judgment, in agreement with the judge, this percolation phenomenon is a legitimate factor to be taken into account in the assessment of damages.'via Blog this'

Monday, 19 November 2012

New Technologies and Human Rights Monitoring: Workshop Summary

ICT for peace foundation: "new technologies will not be a panacea to address all the challenges of increasing the efficacy of the U.N. human rights monitoring mechanisms, and they will not eliminate the need for greater financial resources and human capital to support special rapporteurs. There was consensus, however, that exciting possibilities already exist for harnessing new technologies to support the work of mandate holders, as well as a committed core of technologists and human rights activists who are willing to advance that effort." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 5 November 2012

Nine admit naming rape victim on social media

BBC News - Ched Evans: Nine admit naming rape victim on social media: "first defendant to be identified was biology teacher Holly Price who retweeted a comment and the court heard Price told police that she had been an "idiot" and wanted to apologise to the victim.
Green named the victim on his Facebook page and the court was told he accepted that it was an "act of utter stupidity" and that he did not realise it was in essence a form of publication.
Thomas named the victim on her Twitter, as did Davies who said he was drunk at the time he posted the tweet.
Ashton named the victim and said she "made him sick" as well as other abuse.
Cardwell, a Sheffield United fan, said he was drunk when he named and abused her and did not realise it was illegal. He later deleted the tweet.
Miss Dowell said Devine posted a tweet which was of "particular concern". The court heard that Devine was angry as Sheffield United had just lost to MK Dons, but the court heard he wanted to apologise to the victim."
'via Blog this'

British National Party member set for ECHR decision

British National Party member’s human rights appeal set for court decision | HUMANERIGHTSEUROPE: "Redfearn v. the United Kingdom (no. 47335/06)
The applicant, Arthur Collins Redfearn, is a British national who was born in 1948 and lives in Bradford (England). The case concerns Redfearn’s complaint that he was dismissed from his job as a driver transporting disabled persons, who were mostly Asian, because he was a member of an extremist right-wing and racist party (the British National Party, “the BNP”). He relies in particular on Articles 10 (freedom of expression), 11 (freedom of assembly and association) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination)."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

English legal origins of seditious libel and free speech

Note that this article from 1985 explains that treason (and licensing laws) had been used for anti-government publishing until about 1700, when seditious libel in general (i.e. non-personal attacks) was effectively invented by Lord Chief Justice Holt. The free speech campaigner who first used the expression was Daniel Defoe who wrote the novel 'Robinson Crusoe'.

Friday, 19 October 2012

SCL Media Group Seminar Report: Intermediary Liability

SCL Media Group Seminar Report: Intermediary Liability: "In relation to claims for misuse of private information, injunctions will be ordered only if there is a certain level of seriousness involved and if the outcome of the balancing exercise carried out between the claimant's Article 8 and the defendant's Article 10 rights is in favour of the claimant.  Recent cases have involved questions of how effective injunctions are in the Internet age, and suggest that they are still considered an appropriate remedy despite widespread publication on the Internet." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Man gets community sentence for Facebook post about dead soldiers

Man gets community sentence for Facebook post about dead soldiers | UK news | "The remarks were derogatory, disrespectful and inflammatory, the court ruled in September as a district judge found him guilty of a grossly offensive communication. He will complete 240 hours of community service over a two-year period, the court ruled.
Sentencing him on Tuesday, the district judge Jane Goodwin told him he was "particularly foolish" and the damage caused by his comments, which could be seen by at least 600 Facebook users, had been substantial." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 1 October 2012

Thailand’s Lese Majeste Law: ‘A Strange Legislation that Needs Reform’

Thailand’s Lese Majeste Law: ‘A Strange Legislation that Needs Reform’ · Global Voices: "Article 112 of Thailand’s criminal code is often described as the world’s harshest Lese Majeste (anti-royal insult) law. The controversial law is often invoked to censor web content and shut down websites. Aside from webmasters, even ordinary citizens have been jailed for allegedly sending mobile phone text messages that insult the royal family.
Scholars and activists have been demanding a reform of the law but the government has dismissed the petition." 'via Blog this'

Italian libel sentencing 'should be referred to human rights court'

Italian libel sentencing 'should be referred to human rights court' - Telegraph: "Italy's Supreme Court in Rome upheld a conviction and 14 month sentence handed down by a lower court in Milan against Alessandro Sallusti, the editor of Il Giornale, a newspaper owned by Silvio Berlusconi's brother. The decision has prompted calls for Italy's archaic libel laws to be reformed.
The court ruled that Mr Sallusti was responsible for an article by an anonymous columnist, printed in 2007 by another right-wing newspaper he edited, which called for the death penalty for a judge who had granted a 13-year-old girl the right to have an abortion.
Mr Sallusti was judged to have defamed the judge by printing the story." 'via Blog this'

Friday, 28 September 2012

Wall Street Journal accused of concealing writers' Mitt Romney links

Wall Street Journal accused of concealing writers' Mitt Romney links | Media | "The Wall Street Journal has been criticised by senior US journalists for failing to disclose that 10 of its op-ed writers are Mitt Romney advisers. According to an inquiry by Media Matters, 23 pieces in the WSJ's op-ed pages attacked President Obama or praised Romney without the writers acknowledging their political connections to Romney." 'via Blog this'

Different models on free speech as U.N. debates resolution on curbing ethnic, religious hatred

Different models on free speech as U.N. debates resolution on curbing ethnic, religious hatred - The Washington Post: "Amid the firestorm over an American film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad, the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva votes Friday on a resolution by a group of African and Latin American governments urging countries to “to counter the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred.”
The developing world nations are essentially telling the West: Curb free speech that inflicts wounds based on race or religion. But the West is far from uniform on how to balance free speech rights it considers sacrosanct with efforts to tackle the spread of racial, ethnic or religious hatred." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

"Freedom of Expression and the Internet" 14 Nov 2012 18:00-19:30

IALS Events / Institute of Advanced Legal Studies:
Speakers: Professor Lorna Woods, Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Law, City University Law School
Venue Details: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
Charles Clore House
17 Russell Square
London WC1B 5DR " 'via Blog this'

Friday, 17 August 2012

STatewatch News Online: ECHR pre-paid mobile phones

STatewatch News Online: ECHR pre-paid mobile phones: "The European Commission criticised anonymity bans in 2011 as follows: "No evidence has been provided as to the effectiveness of those national measures. Potential limitations have been highlighted, for example, in cases of identity theft or where a SIM card is purchased by a third party or a user roams with a card purchased in a third country."[1] The Council of Europe warned that such measures "may not only threaten the privacy of subscribers and users in general, they may also inhibit their freedom of communication since they diminish the degree of anonymity which subscribers and users may wish to avail of when using the telephone by obliging them to reveal their identities".[2]
"Two thirds of all EU Member States prosecute crime successfully without a blanket ban on anonymity", comments complainant Jonas Breyer. "As prepaid cards can be passed on or bought anonymously abroad, criminal investigators generally find identification data to be useless. The Court should scrap those ineffective anonymity bans and re-establish our right to anonymous communications and anonymous speech."" 'via Blog this'

Friday, 27 July 2012

Twitter joke trial: Appeal Judgment Sees the Joke

Essex Internet Law LL.M.: "The Divisional Court has given judgment in the appeal of Paul Chambers against his conviction under the Communications Act 2003, s 127. The Court of Appeal gave judgment on 27 July in Chambers v DPP [2012] EWHC 2157 – the much publicised 'Twitter joke' case. The appeal against conviction was allowed on the basis that this 'tweet' did not constitute or include a message of a menacing character.
The full judgment can be downloaded." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Britain’s Half-Hearted Bid to Reform Libel Law

Britain’s Half-Hearted Bid to Reform Libel Law - "Perhaps the bill’s greatest weakness is its failure to provide a robust “public interest” defense, which has been a key demand of campaigners. In the United States, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964) established an “actual malice” standard that the press has to meet to avoid action for defamation when reporting on public figures. The English bill however requires writers and journalists to demonstrate that they have been “responsible” in order to qualify for a public interest defense.
The bill includes a checklist of what is defined as “responsible publication,” ranging from the tone of the statement to the “importance” of what is being reported. But compliance with the list’s requirements is debatable and expensive. The uncertainty of this defense will continue to chill the efforts of investigative journalists, scientists and human rights groups from exposing corruption and wrongdoing." 'via Blog this'

Friday, 11 May 2012

Defamation Bill Published

Defamation Bill Published: "The web site operators' defence is much wider and more generous than I expected: no liability, provided that the person making the comment can be identified – even if we refused to remove the comment after acknowledging that it was untrue. That hardly seems right even if other remedies, such as an injunction, may be available to make an operator take the comment down. What am I missing? It is also worth noting that the proposed single publication rule is entirely without any qualification relating to requested corrections. Given the very short limitation period that applies in cases of defamation and the way that defamatory web content (in particular) can be beyond one's ken for long periods, this may create occasional injustice - especially where newspapers of record are concerned."'via Blog this'

Sunday, 6 May 2012

EC statement on World Press Freedom Day

"The EU calls on all states to guarantee the safety of journalists and to allow them to carry out their vital role of reporting and commenting on events in an independent manner without fear of violence and recrimination.
Freedom of expression also extends to the internet and other media, and the EU is firmly opposed to any unjustified, disproportional restrictions of access to or use of these media."

'via Blog this'

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Web freedom faces greatest threat ever, warns Google's Sergey Brin

Web freedom faces greatest threat ever, warns Google's Sergey Brin | Technology | "If we could wave a magic wand and not be subject to US law, that would be great. If we could be in some magical jurisdiction that everyone in the world trusted, that would be great " 'via Blog this'

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)3 Council of Europe on search engines and social media

| TechnoLlama: "In Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)3, the Committee has adopted a series of impressive-sounding policies that recognise the growing importance of search engines, and the need to make sure that these tools do not threaten fundamental freedoms. "

'via Blog this'