The 24-hour shutdown of Gatwick Airport, caused by a drone, became a media law story when a man and woman were wrongly arrested for causing the havoc – and their names were widely published. The Mail on Sunday splash headline read: “Are these the morons who ruined Christmas?”
One commentator quoted by Press Gazette said their case had echoes of the coverage of the arrest of Sir Cliff Richard, for which he was awarded £210,000 damages against the BBC. He was never charged. The case reshaped the landscape regarding privacy and media freedom.
In a Guardian blog, Professor Roy Greenslade said the affair was reminiscent of the case of Christopher Jefferies, the innocent man who suffered character assassination in the media after being briefly detained in connection with a Bristol murder. But he also noted the public interest in disclosure.
The same Press Gazette report quoted Gill Phillips, the Guardian’s director of editorial legal services, warning that privacy claims were now taking the place of defamation cases – with smaller but still punitive costs involved. Privacy cases offered no defence of truth, and ambiguity over the potential defence of public interest.
Couple wrongly arrested over Gatwick drone chaos could have ‘strong’ privacy claim against newspapers in wake of Sir Cliff ruling
Couple in drone incident hit out at media coverage of arrest but press point to police farce
MPs repeat call for ‘Cliff’s Law’ to stop suspects being named before charge after Gatwick drone front pages
The press ruins Christmas for former drone suspects – Roy Greenslade
Publishing candid street photography may fall foul of the General Data Protection Regulation introduced in May 2018, a number of writers have speculated. Facial features and even the fact that someone was in a particular location are now classed as personal data. Consent may be needed for “processing data” in the form of images, and people should know their “data” is being collected: a problem for photographers whose work involves snapping unsuspecting people. The impact of the law will become clear over time. Read more
The GDPR briefing on this website includes advice that photographers should carry privacy notices saying how images will be used, and giving contact details. It suggests that “legitimate purpose” is the best legal justification to cite for their work. It also links to a blog that urges a pragmatic approach: is it realistic to get written consent to use images from everyone at a particular event? Would there be an expectation that a photographer would be at a particular kind of event – which would reduce the need to seek consent from those present?
All websites – including personal blogs and student sites must comply with the new (in 2018) General Data Protection Regulation, says a guide published by WordPress. Nearly all collect personal data – for instance, when someone subscribes. Read the guide here.
The European Convention on Human Rights has taken away many long-established media freedoms in Britain “without a moment’s debate in Parliament”, says Press Gazette’s Cleland Thom. He lists 13 examples here. A Bill of Rights, proposed by Conservatives, could give US-style protection for media freedom, he says.
A review of changes to media law in 2014 has been published by HoldTheFrontPage. It addresses defamation and the uncertainty over the public interest test, as well as data protection. Read more
Note: this story was uploaded to Media Law Matters before the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation directive, which toughens up data protection law, from May 2018.
An artist asked Google to hide a “positive” story about his early work from searches, because his painting style had changed. A paper called it “absurd” (HoldTheFrontPage). Read more