Feeds

Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media

Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The pace of technological change and rise of social media "may make it inevitable" that UK privacy laws need to be revised and updated, the country's most senior judge has said.

In a speech at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents' Club (nine-page/157KB PDF), Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger said that "astonishing developments" in technology had created "enormous challenges for people involved in the law and people involved in the media".

In particular, "the ease with which words and scenes can be clandestinely recorded, and the ease with which information can be misrepresented or doctored" created particular difficulties for judges, he said.

The same could be said on laws relating to communications more generally, he said.

"It undermines the rule of law if laws are unenforceable," he said.

The UK currently has no dedicated privacy laws. Instead, celebrities and others who wish to prevent information about them from being made public tend to bring cases under the "right to private and family life" in the European Convention on Human Rights, which has been directly enforceable in the UK since the Human Rights Act came into force in 1998.

The comments came as part of a speech on the concept of "open justice", and Lord Neuberger did not go on to suggest what form any new privacy laws could take. However, on the subject of a right to privacy more generally, he said that it was often more appropriate to look at this as "an aspect of freedom of expression" rather than as a distinct right to privacy.

"If I want to do or say something which I am only prepared to do or say privately, then it is an interference with my freedom of expression if I cannot do it or say it because it will be reported in a newspaper," he said.

"Accordingly, at least in many cases, a fight in court between a person who wishes to keep what he or she has said or done confidential and a newspaper who wishes to publish what was said, is a fight between two competing claims each based on freedom of expression," he said.

Lord Neuberger began his speech by saying that there was a "strong case" for court cases to be televised, following the "impressive" broadcasts from the Oscar Pistorius trial in South Africa. Currently, most Supreme Court hearings are filmed and streamed online and the Court of Appeal in England and Wales is "taking steps in that direction", he said.

"Open justice is not just about the courts being open to visitors physically," he said.

"I think that there is a strong case for saying that they should be televised: that is merely the modern extension of enabling the public to enter the courts physically. Of course, concerns about intimidation of witnesses and juries, and about witnesses and lawyers playing to the gallery have to be addressed, but they do not apply to appeals," he said.

Copyright © 2014, Out-Law.com

Out-Law.com is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU
And hey - no need to tell the website you've de-listed. That'll make it easier ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.