Recent experience shows EU measures against fake news are problematic

The EU is stepping up its fight against fake news. It recently published a new policy document (the ‘Communication on Tackling online disinformation’ of 26 April 2018) proposing several measures against fake news.

But the EU is already actively pursuing an anti-fake news campaign, specifically directed at Kremlin disinformation. It started a website called ‘EU vs Disinfo’, where it selects articles the EU qualifies as fake news and ‘pro-Kremlin disinformation’. It is a type of naming and shaming strategy, where the EU links to the media which in its eyes are ‘disinforming outlets’. On EU vs Disinfo, the EU accused three Dutch media of spreading fake news. However, …read more

Conviction for performance-art protest at war memorial did not violate Article 10

* Guest post by prof. Dirk Voorhoof, Ghent University and Ronan Ó Fathaigh.

The European Court’s Fourth Section has held, by four votes to three, that a protestor’s conviction, including a suspended three-year prison sentence, for frying eggs over the flame of a war memorial, did not violate the protestor’s freedom of expression. The judgment in Sinkova v. Ukraine prompted a notable dissent, which highlighted “inconsistency” with the Court’s prior case law, and a disregard for the principle that criminal penalties …read more

Geoblocking Regulation is final!

On February 28 Europe adopted the Geoblocking Regulation. The European Parliament, European Commission and Member States have collectively reached a final agreement. Discrimination of customers in e-commerce on the basis of their nationality, place of residence or place of establishment shall be prohibited. Streaming of copyright protected music, e-books, online games or software do not (yet) fall under the scope of the Regulation. Other services such as financial, audio-visual, transport, healthcare and social services are also …read more

The right of journalistic newsgathering during demonstrations

*Guest post by prof. Dirk Voorhoof, Ghent University and Daniel Simons, Greenpeace International.

In a case about a Ukrainian journalist being arrested during an anti-globalisation protest in Russia, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Butkevich v. Russia (13 February 2018) has clarified that the gathering of information is an essential preparatory step in journalism and an inherent, protected part of press freedom. The ECtHR found that the arrest, prosecution and conviction of the journalist had violated his right to freedom …read more

ECtHR in Becker: Robust protection of journalistic sources remains a basic condition for press freedom

After our first assessment of the Becker ruling of the ECtHR, here is a more in-depth analysis of the verdict.

Guest post by prof. Dirk Voorhoof, Ghent University.*

In the judgment in the case Becker v. Norway the ECtHR showed once more its concern about the importance of the protection of journalistic sources for press freedom and investigative journalism in particular. The ECtHR emphasised that a journalist’s protection under Article 10 ECHR cannot automatically be removed by virtue of a source’s own conduct, and that source protection applies also when a source’s identity is known. The judgment has …read more

No journalism exception for massive exposure of personal taxation data

Guest post by prof. Dirk Voorhoof, Ghent University.*

After long proceedings at national level, after a preliminary ruling by the EU Court of Justice on 16 December 2008 (Case C-73/07), and after the European Court of Human Rights Chamber judgment of 21 July 2015, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR on 27 June 2017 finally found no violation of the right to freedom of expression and information in Satakunnan Markkinapörssi Oy and Satamedia Oy v. Finland. In essence the case concerns the mass collection, processing and publication of personal taxation data which were publicly accessible in Finland. The combination of a narrow interpretation of (public interest) journalism with a wide …read more

Missed Opportunity – Dutch Supreme Court Copy-Pastes Google Spain Judgment

In a judgment dated 24 February 2017 the Dutch Supreme Court followed the considerations of the EU Court of Justice in the Google Spain judgment regarding the right to be forgotten. Although the Dutch court must adhere to the judgments of the EU Court of Justice, this is nevertheless a missed opportunity. Particularly because this way established case law of another European court, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and of the Dutch Supreme Court itself is brushed aside very easily, without

…read more

ECHR in Pihl v. Sweden: blog operator not liable for promptly removed defamatory user comment

Guest post by prof. Dirk Voorhoof, Ghent University.*

In its decision of 9 March 2017 in Rolf Anders Daniel Pihl v. Sweden, the ECtHR has clarified the limited liability of operators of websites or online platforms containing defamatory user-generated content. The Court’s decision is also to be situated in the current discussion on how to  prevent or react on  “fake news”, and the policy to involve online platforms in terms of liability for posting such messages. Although the Court’s ruling expresses concerns about imposing liability on internet intermediaries that would amount to requiring excessive and impractical forethought capable of undermining the right to impart information via internet, the decision in Pihl v. Sweden itself guarantees only minimal protection for the rights of internet intermediaries and …read more

Hyperlinking at one’s own risk – CJEU in GS Media / Sanoma

By Joran Spauwen and Jens van den Brink[1]

The GS Media decision[2] of 8 September 2016 is the latest chapter in the case law from the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) on hyperlinking and copyright. Some consider it a questionable outcome with drastic restrictions on the freedom to link, and consequently of the freedom of information. Others feel the GS Media decision is merely a logical consequence of CJEU’s previous case law on the copyright holder’s exclusive right to ‘communicate his work to the public’. In any event, the decision has caused quite a stir, which may in part be due to the racy facts underlying this …read more

European Court upholds criminal conviction for purchasing illegal firearm as a form of ‘check it out’ journalism in Salihu ao v. Sweden

 Guest post by professor Dirk Voorhoof and Daniel Simons.*

Investigative journalism sometimes operates at the limits of the law. This is especially true of what could be called ‘check it out’ journalism: reporting in which a journalist tests how effective a law or procedure is by attempting to circumvent it. A recent decision shows that those who commit (minor) offences during this type of newsgathering activity cannot count …read more

Top rankings for media team Kennedy Van der Laan

Google Spain in the Netherlands III: does convicted murderer have ‘right to be forgotten’?

Dutch court (II): Google Spain Ruling Not Meant to Suppress News Reporting

ECHR in Tierbefreier v. Germany – Monkey Business, undercover reporting by an animal rights group

European Court applies Von Hannover II criteria in defamation case

French court awards damages for breach of privacy to alleged mistress of French president Hollande

Conviction of cyberstalker upheld on appeal

Article 10 of the Convention includes the right of access to data held by an intelligence agency

Consultation on proposed regulation of online gambling: Dutch market opens up at a price