Category Archives: News media

ILPC launches new report: ‘Protecting Sources and Whistleblowers in the Digital Age’

front-page-snippet-download-the-reportThe emergence of an everyday digital culture and the increasing use of legal instruments by state actors to collect and access communications data has led to growing concern about the protection of journalistic sources and whistleblowers.

With the support of Guardian News and Media, the Information Law and Policy Centre has published a new report to consider these developments entitled ‘Protecting Sources and Whistleblowers in the Digital Age’. The report is open access and available for download.

Authored by Dr Judith Townend and Dr Richard Danbury, the report analyses how technological advances expose journalists and their sources to interference by state actors, corporate entities or individuals.

The report also looks at how journalists can reduce threats to whistleblowing; examines the rights and responsibilities of journalists, whistleblowers and lawmakers; and makes a number of positive recommendations for policymakers, journalists, NGOs and researchers.

The report’s findings are based on discussions with 25 investigative journalists, representatives from relevant NGOs and media organisations, media lawyers and specialist researchers in September 2016.

Protecting Sources and Whistleblowers in the Digital Age was officially launched on 22 February 2017 at the House of Lords.

Alongside the report, the Information Policy Law and Policy Centre has also published a range of open access resources on journalistic sources and whistleblowing which are available here.

Implementing Leveson, how the national newspaper groups use the local press as “human shields” – Hugh Tomlinson QC

In this guest post, Hugh Tomlinson QC, Chair of Hacked Off, considers the press’s response to the Government’s consultation on the implementation of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 – a significant component in the Leveson system of press regulation.   

nottingham-postThe local press has, over the past few weeks, been running an anti-Leveson campaign in response to the Government’s unfair and unbalanced consultation on the implementation of Leveson. The themes are familiar: local newspapers are the life blood of democracy, they didn’t do phone hacking but they will be financially ruined if section 40 is implemented.

The first two points are true but the third is not. The innocent and popular local press is being used by its guilty and unpopular national big brothers to defend the indefensible – as a “human shield” against proper regulation.

Let’s take the example of the response of the Nottingham Post. This is a daily newspaper with a circulation of 18,000 in Nottingham and the surrounding area. It provides a valuable service to the local community and is, indeed, essential to local democracy. But it is not a plucky little independent paper struggling to survive. It is owned by Trinity Mirror, a profitable newspaper group with an annual turnover of around £200 million.

It should be remembered that although there are over 1,000 distinct daily and weekly newspapers in the UK, five publishers own 80% of these titles. In other words, the typical local newspaper is not a struggling small business, but part of a larger media corporation. Many of these local newspaper owning groups are profitable, despite the severe pressures on the local press resulting from the decline in classified advertising.

Back to the Nottingham Post. This local newspaper – along with all the others owned by Trinity Mirror – has refused to submit itself to independent regulation but, instead, has joined the body created by the national newspapers, IPSO. This has, of course, not carried out meaningful regulation of any kind.

So why will the Nottingham Post not join an independent regulator? After all, it is something that opinion poll evidence shows is overwhelming favoured by the public.

The Nottingham Post gives its readers two reasons.

First, it says that if it had to sign up to a recognised regulator such as Impress it would be forced to

“commit to a potentially expensive compulsory arbitration process They could well have to find thousands of pounds to contest every case heard, as complainants queued up to cash in on minor errors when a swift apology would suffice”.

So, it is said, “potentially” a local newspaper “could well” face additional expenditure under the arbitration system offered by Impress to readers. This is, of course, not an argument available to the big national newspaper groups. An arbitration system would save them large sums in court costs – their concern is not low cost arbitration but avoiding independent and effective regulation.

The local press is being used to advance an argument against section 40 to shield the national press from the full operation of the balanced Leveson for audited self-regulation. But the argument does not work, even for the local press. There are four reasons for this:

  • As the use of the word “potentially” shows, there is no evidence whatever that the arbitration process will be expensive for the local press. The claim is pure scaremongering. Of the 140 IPSO complaints brought against local newspapers over the past 2 years only 14 could even theoretically give rise to a legal claim – at most there are likely to be a handful of arbitration claims against the local press. Bad claims would be weeded out by the arbitrator at an early stage. The likely additional cost to local newspapers would be negligible.
  • The suggestion that “minor errors” would give rise to arbitration claims is a deliberate misrepresentation – an arbitration claim can only be brought if there is a legal “cause of action” such as defamation or privacy. “Minor errors” do not give rise to legal claims.
  • Arbitration is cheap. That is its most obvious virtue. At Impress a claimant will pay less than £100, while a newspaper’s costs need not rise above a few thousand – a tiny fraction of court costs.
  • The Royal Charter contains specific provision to protect local newspapers against even the costs of arbitration – where they have been caused serious financial harm the PRP can allow a recognised regulator to proceed on the basis that that the local and regional press need not participate in the arbitration system. This provision was inserted into the Royal Charter specifically to assist the local press – but they never mention it.

Second it is said, that IPSO has refused to seek recognition by the PRP

“for the simple reason that it believes it would be submitting to state regulation”.

This is nonsense. The PRP is not a “regulator” at all – it is simply a body that audits regulators to determine whether they come up to proper standards. Seeking recognition from the PRP is not, in any sense, “submitting to state regulation”. What is more, the national press (who control IPSO) have no principled objection to “state recognition”. As Lord Justice Leveson pointed out, the Irish Press Council is underpinned by statute and has “been accepted without demur” by the leading UK newspaper publishers, including Trinity Mirror. There is no “objection of principle”

The Nottingham Post, dancing to the tune of its Trinity Mirror masters, has no proper arguments against the implementation of section 40. Although the Post did not engage in phone hacking and the wholesale abuse of victims, its ultimate owners did. The Post is one of many local and regional papers acting as “human shields” – providing the excuses to justify a last-ditch attempt by the national newspaper groups to avoid participating in a proper system of regulation.

Hugh Tomlinson QC is the Chair of Hacked Off, the campaign for a free and accountable press which is urging supporters to respond to the Leveson implementation consultation.

This post first appeared on the Inforrm blog. It does not represent the views of the Information Law and Policy Centre or the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. 

Information Law and Policy Centre Annual Lecture and Workshop

An afternoon workshop and evening lecture to be given by leading information and data protection lawyer Rosemary Jay.

Restricted and Redacted: Where now for human rights and digital information control?

The Information Law and Policy Centre is delighted to announce that bookings are now open for its annual workshop and lecture on Wednesday 9th November 2016, this year supported by Bloomsbury’s Communications Law journal.

For both events, attendance will be free of charge thanks to the support of the IALS and our sponsor, although registration will be required as places are limited.

To register for the afternoon workshop please visit this Eventbrite page.

To register for the evening lecture please visit this Eventbrite Page.

Please note that for administrative purposes you will need to book separate tickets for the afternoon and evening events if you would like to come to both events.

AFTERNOON WORKSHOP/SEMINAR 
11am – 5pm (lunch and refreshments provided)

For the afternoon part of this event we have an excellent set of presentations lined up that consider information law and policy in the context of human rights. Speakers will offer an original perspective on the way in which information and data interact with legal rights and principles relating to free expression, privacy, data protection, reputation, copyright, national security, anti-discrimination and open justice.

We will be considering topics such as internet intermediary liability, investigatory and surveillance powers, media regulation, freedom of information, the EU General Data Protection Regulation, whistleblower protection, and ‘anti-extremism’ policy. The full programme will be released in October.

EVENING LECTURE BY ROSEMARY JAY, HUNTON & WILLIAMS
6pm-7.30pm (followed by reception)

The afternoon workshop will be followed by a keynote lecture to be given by Rosemary Jay, senior consultant attorney at Hunton & Williams and author of Sweet & Maxwell’s Data Protection Law & Practice. Continue reading

Addressing the challenge of anonymous sources in the digital age

Dr Aljosha Karim Schapals, research assistant at the Information Law and Policy Centre, reports from the launch of a new book by Eric Barendt, Emeritus Professor of Media Law at UCL, on anonymous speech in the context of literature, law and politics.

On 28 June, Professor Eric Barendt launched his new book ‘Anonymous Speech: Literature, Law and Politics’ at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS). His book critically examines the arguments for and against anonymity, which in the context of online communications draw attention to complex and important moral and legal questions.

It is on this basis that Barendt started outlining the pros and cons of anonymous speech, both online as well as offline: on the one hand, the use of pseudonyms has enabled great writers such as Jane Austen to publish anonymously and to have their privacy protected on the grounds of gender and socio-economic class considerations. Furthermore, anonymity allows writers to have their work considered solely on the basis of its merits rather than the additional ‘baggage’ that comes with being an established writer.

On the other hand, however, anonymity can be used to deceive audiences or inflict harm. Barendt stressed that anonymity on the Internet can encourage more socially disinhibited behaviour leading to hate speech, threats of rape and violence as well as cyberbullying.

Continue reading

Whistleblowers and journalists in the digital age

Snowden

Dr Aljosha Karim Schapals, research assistant at the Information Law and Policy Centre, reports on a research workshop hosted by the University of Cardiff on Digital Citizenship and the ‘Surveillance Society’.

A workshop led by researchers at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) on 27th June in London shared the findings of an 18 month ESRC funded research project examining the relationships between the state, the media and citizens in the wake of the Snowden revelations of 2013.

It was the concluding event of a number of conferences, seminars and workshops organised by the five principal researchers: Dr Arne Hintz (Cardiff), Dr Lina Dencik (Cardiff), Prof Karin Wahl-Jorgensen (Cardiff), Prof Ian Brown (Oxford) and Dr Michael Rogers (TU Delft).

Broadly speaking, the Digital Citizenship and the ‘Surveillance Society’ (DCSS) project has investigated the nature, opportunities and challenges of digital citizenship in light of US and UK governmental surveillance as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Touching on more general themes such as freedom of expression, data privacy and civic transparency, the project aligns with the research activities of the Information Law and Policy Centre, which include developing work on journalism and whistleblower protection, and discussions and analysis of the Investigatory Powers Bill. Continue reading

Workshop summary: Evaluating legal responses to threats to news in a digital environment

On the 3rd November 2015, a workshop was held at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) in London, to discuss potential legal responses to threats to the production of news in a digital environment. Particular attention was paid to copyright.

The workshop was an output of a two-year study funded by the AHRC, entitled ‘Appraising Potential Legal Responses to Threats to the Production of News in a Digital Environment’.

The co-Principal Investigators in the study are Professors Lionel Bently of Cambridge University and Ian Hargreaves of Cardiff University. The Research Associate is Dr Richard Danbury.

Present were academics, representatives of news publishers, and representatives of digital information businesses.

On the basis of the discussions that unfolded during the workshop, Richard Danbury has now compiled a report. This can be downloaded in PDF format at this link below.

R Danbury – Public Summary of London Workshop

 

New report: The impact of charity and tax law/regulation on not-for-profit news organizations

A new report on the impact of charity and and tax law/regulation on not-for-profit news organisations has been published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, and the Information Society Project at Yale University.

It compares the regulatory systems of Australia, Canada, Ireland, the UK and the US and documents the challenges for not-for-profit organizations involved in the production of news and journalism.

The UK (England and Wales) chapter was written by the director of the IALS Information Law and Policy Centre, Dr Judith Townend, partly based on her previous work for the University of Westminster’s AHRC funded project on media power and plurality.

The report can be downloaded in PDF format at this link.

About the report

The advent of digital media means that many news organisations are re-thinking their business models, and facing new challenges.

But one sector which has seen growth, is the not-for-profit start up industry. In a new report, published jointly by the Reuters Institute and the Information Society Project at Yale University, Robert G. Picard, the RISJ’s North America Representative and colleagues examine the legal framework in which these operate in.

Picard, along with Valerie Belair-Gagnon and Sofia Ranchordás (both Yale University), studies the challenges thrown up by legal systems which don’t include journalistic activities within the concept of ‘charitable status’.

“Legal and regulatory definitions of charitable purposes hinder news organisations from achieving charitable and tax exempt status and receiving the associated benefits in Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States,” says Picard.

Drawing on the regulatory systems of Australia, Canada, Ireland, the UK and the US, the report sets out to gain a clearer understanding of the legal frameworks for charitable and tax exempt status for news organisations and the distinct challenges that may hinder their development.

See more at this link.

Upcoming Conference: Copyright, Related Rights and the News in the EU – Assessing Potential New Laws

CIPIL University of Cambridge, hosted at IViR, University of Amsterdam

  • Date: Saturday, 23 April 2016, from 10:00 t0 17:30 (CET)
  • Location: University of Amsterdam, Agnietenkapel , Oudezijds Voorburgwal 229 – 231, 1012 EZ Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Registration at this link

The difficulties of commercial journalism
Like music and other branches of publishing, commercial news journalism has faced radical challenges over the last two decades. There is talk of the “death of the newspaper” and questions have been raised about the very future of journalism. While with music, books and films, the greatest threat to existing business models have been seen as the unauthorised and unremunerated home copying and peer-to-peer distribution, with commercial news journalism much of the challenge derives from the fact that advertising has not followed the shift of print-newspapers to the Internet. Such difficulties are compounded, from the point of view of news publishers, by the relatively free availability of news from other online sources. And they’ve been further compounded by the recent rise of social media, particularly Facebook, as a main route to the news.

Questions that arise
Is there sufficient rationale to alter copyright or related laws in a way that benefits news publishers? Should commercial news publishers benefit from any change in the law, given that other means exist for gathering and disseminating news? How strong is an economic case for such a right? To what extent is any economic case for change supplemented by other arguments, such as reward and natural rights arguments, and arguments about media plurality? Should European law treat news publishers in a similar way to other content producers, such as phonogram producers and broadcasters, who benefit from a related right? Would individual journalists benefit from a right afforded to news publishers, and if so, to what extent? Should news publishers benefit from levies and compensation schemes designed to benefit author-journalists?

A one day conference at IViR will seek to address these questions. The conference is part of a two-year, AHRC funded project at CIPIL, Cambridge University, entitled Appraising Potential Legal Responses to Threats to the Production of  News in a Digital Environment, which the IViR will kindly host and facilitate.

The conference brings together an interdisciplinary combination of academics and practitioners to discuss the issue. Representatives from news producing, publishing and disseminating organizations, both traditional and online, have been invited and speakers will include Andrew Hughes from the NLA Media Access. Academic speakers include Lionel Bently and John Naughton from Cambridge; Bernt Hugenholtz and Mireille van Eechoud from IViR; Ian Hargreaves from Cardiff University; Raquel Xalabarder (UOC Barcelona) and Jan Hegemann (FU Berlin).

For further information contact:
Dr Richard Danbury
Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law,
University of Cambridge
Rmd59@cam.ac.uk

David Goldberg: Dronalism in the Year of the Drone

Dr David Goldberg is a member of the Advisory Board of the Information Law and Policy Centre. He has recently authored the following: [1] ”Journalism, drones, and law” in A. Koltay (ed), Comparative Perspectives on the Fundamental Freedom of Expression (Wolters Kluwer 2015); [2] ”Droning on About Journalism: Remotely Piloted Aircraft and Newsgathering” in A. Završnik (ed), Drones and Unmanned Aerial Systems (Springer 2015); [3] “Dronalism: Journalism, Remotely Piloted Aircraft, Law and Regulation” in Florida International University Law Review, Vol 10 (2); and [4]Regulators Should let ‘Dronalism’ Take Off” in Media Asia December 2015. In 2013, he co-authored Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and Journalism (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism). In this guest post, he argues in favour of the use of drones in journalism.

Hands up who has heard of John Silva? Not many, I bet! Silva was chief engineer for Los Angeles station KTLA-TV. In 1958, he outfitted a helicopter with a TV camera and changed television news coverage forever. Fast forward 50+ years and a drone/remotely piloted aircraft (the issue of what to call the gizmos is so yesterday) is simply an analogous newer bit of kit in a (photo) journalist’s toolbox.

In my opinion, drones both can and should be allowed to be used inter alia for the purposes of newsgathering, journalism and media production: should because basically they assist newsgathering. In itself, the drone is nothing, it’s just a flying donkey. It’s what you strap on to it, e.g., a camera or data sensor, that makes a drone useful in the context of journalism/newsgathering (aka “dronalism”). As such, its deployment is protected under Article 10 ECHR (the only drone application to engage a human right?), because its use, just like a camera, for street photography facilitates newsgathering. Overly precious concerns about a subject’s identity disclosure using a device which might be difficult to spot would do well to defer to the 2015 decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Haldimann and Others v Switzerland, which found for journalists using covert filming techniques.

More generally, it has become something of a cliché to say that 2016 is the “year of the drone”. But, less reported (actually, not at all?) than yet-another-scare-story (is the industry even approached for a quote in those cases?) is the ongoing government-initiated “Public Dialogue on the use and deployment of drones in the UK”. In due course, the conclusions will be posted here (the full report is likely to be published in June). For now, one industry insider reports back from a recent cross-government working group on remotely piloted aircraft meeting:

“‘The public’s overwhelming feeling is they are excited by drone technology, they are not concerned by state, military or commercial use as ‘they know what they are doing’”.

The category of concern is the recreational/consumer user and not even the hobbyist who is likely to be a member of a group or club with a sense and culture of professionalism and rule-following.

To return, finally, to dronalism, here’s a thought: it doesn’t fit into any of the aforementioned categories! As the amicus curiae brief by News Media in the US National Transportation Safety Board Huerta v Pirker litigation states, “the publication of news is not a ‘commercial’ activity comparable to the sale of goods and services”. That activity and the activities pursuant to it are protected – that conclusion should hold whether with regard to US constitutional concerns or the European fundamental rights regime.

Robin Callender Smith: Pictures of celebrities’ children now clearly off limits for media – unless parents consent

In this guest post, originally published on The Conversation UK, Professor Robin Callender Smith, Queen Mary University of London, considers the recent Court of Appeal decision in Weller v Associated Newspapers ([2015] EWCA Civ 1176)

Pictures of bonny Prince George may well become a lot less common following a landmark ruling.  Media pictures of the children of celebrities are now clearly off limits – unless their parents consent to publication.

The Court of Appeal has confirmed a High Court decision last year giving three of Paul Weller’s children total of £10,000 damages for breaching their right to privacy. This will have far-reaching adverse effects on the freedom of the UK media.

Using such pictures is not illegal at the moment but the Weller ruling indicates how expensive it could be for the media if this decision is ignored by picture editors. The ruling clarifies that it is not just very young children of celebrities who are protected but also older, teenage children as well.

This issue has been rumbling for just over ten years, since J K Rowling’s 19-month-old son David was photographed with in Edinburgh while the family were walking to a local café. His parents successfully sued the Sunday Express magazine and the agency that supplied the images on David’s behalf.

A family day out

In the Weller case the three children had been photographed in public with their parents out together on a shopping trip, eating in a cafe in Los Angeles. The photographs had upset the children and – because of the celebrity status of their parents – their publication had security implications. Weller had asked the photographer to stop taking the photographs. But in October 2012 the Mail Online used seven of the pictures under the headline “A family day out”. Taking and publishing such pictures in California is lawful, but in the UK the law was less clear. Weller therefore sued the Mail in the UK.

Children in the UK are presumed to have privacy rights and their rights are given higher protection than those of adults. Use of their images in the media without parental consent and in situations where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy therefore amounts to a misuse of private information. But this ruling has changed what “reasonable expectation of privacy” means, particularly when applied to the children of celebrities.

In April 2014 the original judge (Mr Justice Dingemans) held that the three children did have a legitimate expectation of privacy because, although their activities took place in a public area – shopping and eating in a cafe visible from the street – they were the activities of a family enjoying private family time. Weller’s daughter Dylan, who was 16 when the photos were taken, received £5,000 and her ten-month-old twin step-siblings John Paul and Bowie received £2,500 each.

The 2014 decision was then challenged by Associated Newspapers, the Daily Mail’s publisher, but as of today the ruling stands. This precedent means that celebrity parents now have extra power to control how the images of their children appear in the UK media: all children are protected in situations where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. What constitutes being “reasonable” is debatable – so there may still be litigation about this in the future.

Price or pixels

Hannah Weller, the twins’ mother and the stepmother of Dylan, is campaigning for a change in the law to protect all children, not just those of celebrities. Her Campaign for Children’s Privacy calls for legislation to protect children’s privacy by preventing the media from publishing photographs of children without consent from parents or a legal guardian. Where a child is identified, and there is no parental consent or public interest, the child’s facial image should be pixellated.

Even so, it is not only the children of celebrities who benefit from this ruling. Picture editors would be foolhardy to ignore it. So it doesn’t matter whether the photographs are of royal children such as Prince George and Princess Charlotte or simply of Jack and Jill throwing snowballs or splashing in the sea. Where the children have a reasonable expectation of privacy and there is no parental consent then pictures which include the children’s faces cannot be published unless their faces are pixellated. This will also put a stop to the media “scraping” children’s photographs from social media sites following disasters or other high-profile events.

From the media’s point of view this decision is going to make the job of picture editors – and photographers generally – more difficult and complex. Demanding to see parental consent forms is not something that fits easily into the cycle of news production – and pixellation generally spoils the look of any picture.

And of course, the law of unintended consequences may result in some celebrities, who would welcome publicity, not having their pictures featured if there is a child in the frame who cannot be photoshopped out.

The ConversationRobin Callender Smith is Visiting Professor in Media Law, Queen Mary University of LondonHis book Celebrity and Royal Privacy, the Media and the Law will be published by Sweet & Maxwell on 31 Dec 2015.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.