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Giggsgate: privacy law is on the cards after legal fiasco
• In the media glare: Ryan Giggs with wife Stacey Cooke
Scottish experts have warned gagging orders are ineffective following the naming of Ryan Giggs and former banker Sir Fred Goodwin in the House of Commons.
Critics believe the UK government is to blame for not reacting quickly enough to the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law in October 2000. Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed concerns about privacy laws being developed in courts rather than in Parliament.
However, Dr Gillian Black, lecturer in law and privacy specialist at Edinburgh University, said successive governments had “ducked the issue” and must now introduce new laws as a matter of urgency.
“It is incumbent on Parliament to do so,” she said. “The media is very unhappy about the courts doing this (writing privacy laws], but they are only doing so because Parliament has ducked the issue.
“The article eight right to privacy (in the European Convention on Human Rights] has been here since October 2000, so Parliament has had long enough to go away and think about these things.”
However, she believes governments have long viewed more stringent privacy laws as a vote loser, with the press and public putting a high value on freedom of speech. Dr Black said: “They’ve not simply missed it. It’s a well accepted fact in the academic world of privacy that the government has not been willing to legislate because it’s not going to be popular.”
She said enshrining privacy laws in legislation would go some way to encouraging people to respect it.
“One concern is that the courts make this up as they go along,” she said. “What we need is a statutory right to privacy – a privacy bill.
“The government would not have to do much more than set down what judges have already done, but it would clear up what the media can and can’t do.
“The one thing they can address is the remedy. Super-injunctions are a failed remedy.”
Super-injunctions have become highly controversial as a court order that not only bans the media from publishing information, but also from revealing that the order even exists.
Former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin obtained one to try to hide details of an alleged affair with a colleague, although the order had to be altered after a peer revealed details in the House of Lords.
BBC journalist Andrew Marr also obtained a super-injunction to try to hide an affair with a colleague – he later abandoned it and admitted he was “embarrassed”. Since the UK became compliant with the ECHR, judges have had to balance the two competing rights within it of freedom of speech and privacy – such as when Mr Justice Eady ruled in favour of Manchester United footballer Giggs’ right to privacy – over Imogen Thomas’ desire to name him when speaking publicly about their alleged affair.
However, Frank Johnstone, convener of the privacy committee of the Law Society of Scotland, said it is not judges’ privacy laws that have been the problem, but the way they have tried to enforce them.
“I don’t take the view that the law on privacy has been broken,” he said. “The law was interpreted by a judge and he granted a remedy – the super-injunction. The remedy has proven to be ineffective, that does not mean the law was wrong.
“Rights are important but rather meaningless if you cannot translate it in effective remedy.”
He suggested tighter security might be imposed around the court proceedings, limiting the chance of the information getting out.
“What would be interesting to know is how did it get out in the first place, someone must have breached it initially, and it is that person that made it an ineffective remedy,” he added.
However, Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, warned free speech must be enshrined in any new legislation.
“My concern would be in cases where there’s genuine, or substantial, public interest that (freedom of speech) should not be over-ridden.
“Freedom of expression is very important. It’s not an automatic trump card over everything else, but neither should it be set aside.”
Yair Cohen, a leading internet lawyer, said people should be given stronger powers to challenge inaccurate or defamatory stories before publication, as an alternative to super-injunctions.
However, he also warned that celebrities who cheat on their wives, husbands or partners, may have to accept the blame for hurting them if their antics later appear in the press.
Mr Cohen said: “The families of, let’s say a footballer, who is guilty of indiscretions might have to bear the consequences of this change in the same way that families of criminals have to live with the consequences of an unlawful act by one of their members.
“And the family member who committed the indiscretion will have to take some responsibility for his actions, including the effect of his actions on members of his family.”
He added: “Any change in the law of privacy should cement this principle but should also give an opportunity to aggrieved parties to challenge any publication in advance in the event that the information which is about to be printed is incorrect or defamatory.”
Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday opened the first ever e-G8 forum in Paris. The event brings together leading figures from the technology industry to discuss the impact of the internet.
News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch and BBC director general Mark Thompson were due to speak at the event.
Internet Law Expert Yair Cohen says Victims of Online Reputation Attacks And Online Intimidation Should Take Their Cases To The High Court Instead of Reporting Them To The Police – London Lawyers
Internet Law Expert says that victims of online reputation attacks and online intimidation should take their cases to the High Court instead of reporting them to the police.
“It is not surprising at all”, says one of the UK’s leading internet legal experts Yair Cohen, “that it took the authorities 18 months before Andreassen was finally jailed. By this time, his victim must have been completely destroyed, mentally and emotionally. Her confidence must have been shattered and her trust in people would have been replaced with cynicism and weariness. Had this hate campaign been conducted offline, I have no doubt that the authorities would have acted much quicker to bring it to a halt.”
Grooming Of Men On The Internet « Internet Law Expert
Many men whether rich or poor, married or single go chatting and in most cases quite innocently. It is just another way for many to relax from the days chores and have a relaxing conversation with other online chatters. It is normally a friendly place which at times, as you will find out, could become very dangerous indeed.
What many of these men don’t realise is that there are some dangerous predators out there, ready to eat them alive. Not literally but also not very far from that.
These dangerous predators I am talking about
A Google Bomb. What a scary phrase. Surely you must have heard this term being used before and wondered what it actually meant.
So what does the term “Google Bomb” really mean, how can a Google Bomb affect you or your business and what can you do to protect yourself from being a victim?
Find a ‘live’ example of a mini Google Bomb on my Internet Law Expert blog.
Follow this link to read the full article on How To Create A Google Bomb
Internet Law Experts: What Is A Google Bomb | Internet Lawyers | via Internet Law Experts: What Is A Google Bomb | Internet Defamation
By: Yair Cohen
Having your reputation tarnished all over the internet is bad. But having your reputation destroyed with an online video is absolutely devastating.
Since taking over YouTube, Google appears to be on a mission to turn the internet into a multimedia medium and so are the other major search engines. It is believed that Google uses positive discrimination in order to encourage the use of video on the internet and as a result, it gives priority to video results which contain the searched keywords as well as to web pages which contain videos.
This means that online videos could be used as an explosive weapon by those who wish to harm your online reputation. Online videos can be optimised to obtain good placements without the search engines in exactly the same way that optimisation is done for a web page. In fact, some argue it is much easier to obtain high places in the search engines with videos than with web pages. At the moment, online videos remain a major reputational weakness for many businesses. But this weakness can be turned into strength very quickly.
You can create a relatively inexpensive yet highly effective reputational defence shield to make it harder to attack your reputation on the internet.
Online Reputation – Injunction Against Google: How To Remove A Website « Internet Law Expert
How Can I Remove Defamatory Websites?
In the past few weeks we removed over 40 defamatory websites, which up until then, devastated our clients’ reputation.
We removed a vast number of defamatory videos from YouTube and we managed to remove a popular, yet defamatory article against a successful businessman from a national news website.
We sought and won injunctions against YouTube, Google Inc, Firefox and other internet giants around the world and successfully enforced them all in the UK, the USA, Canada and other countries.
We gave one decent, hard-working online retailer his business back following savage online reputation attacks against him and his company by competitors.
We advised a client who owns an international franchise company on how to deal with online attacks by a former employee. These constant attacks were estimated to have cost the company in excess of £300,000!
We have also helped the owners of a national services company to form their first ever online reputation strategy following a devastating online reputation attack against them by both a competitor and a former employee, which cost them their biggest contact.
So this is how it is done… Read Full Blog on Internet Law Expert
By: Yair Cohen
“If you have found yourself being the subject of an online reputation attack, with lies being spread about you over the internet, you will find that the most effective way of dealing with such menace is to simply ask that the website owner or the Internet Service Provider remove the libelous statements. Normally website owners and internet service providers are not willing to tolerate online abuse or risk getting involved in litigation which has probably got nothing to do with them anyway. You can normally obtain very useful information from the website owner because websites routinely require visitors and bloggers to register before posting content and sites usually can pinpoint the IP address where the defamatory posting originated. “