Media and Communications Law

The High Court has recently handed down a decision conerning anonymity of a blogger: the Author of a Blog v Times Newspapers (here’s a link to the case on BAILLI: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2009/1358.html). The case concerned a police office who wrote a blog about his work, but did so anonymously. A journalist from the Times Newspaper worked out the identity of the police officer, using information publicaly available, mainly on the Internet. The blogger sought to restrain the Times Newspaper from publishing his identity. He argued that there was a duty of confidence and that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of the information that he was the author of the blog. Both arguments were rejected, the test for whether either the right to object to disclosure of private information or to breach of privacy being an objective test. Eady J, relying on the approach in Mahmood v Galloway (which concerned the unmasking of an undercover journalist) argued that the author could not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, even though he took steps to preserve his anonymity, as blogging is an essentially public activity. As regards the argument based on confidence, Eady J held that the identity of the blogger did not have the necessary quality of confidence, as required since Coco v A N Clark (Engineers) Ltd [1969] RPC 41. Many bloggers may rely on the protection offered by technology, which may not be as complete as they thought; it now seems that the law will not make up for any such gaps (in the ansence of a breach of confidence). This case may give some anonymous bloggers pause for thought where they can be unmasked, and their identity made known, as a result of detective work.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s