Information Rights: imminent developments

Like any self-respecting Panopticon, this website keeps tabs on imminent developments in its fields of interest. Here are some of the major cases to look out for in the information rights field.

State surveillance and the Prism/Tempora programmes

The obtaining, use and retention of personal data by state agencies has come under intense scrutiny since Edward Snowden’s revelations about the Prism/Tempora programmes. Litigation brought in the UK by Privacy International and Liberty against GCHQ and others reaches a head tomorrow, when the Investigatory Powers Tribunal gives judgment in that case.

Google Spain – and beyond

The Google Spain ‘right to be forgotten’ judgment has been one of the major events of 2014, in information rights terms. How is the right to be forgotten supposed to be applied in practice? The authoritative Article 29 Working Party (the cross-EU panel established under Article 29 of the DP Directive) has now given definitive guidance on how regulators should deal with such matters: see its guidelines adopted on 26 November.

Additionally, in X & Y v Google France the French Court (the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance) has saddled Google with liability (on pain of monetary penalties) for defamation, in that continued to provide links to Facebook and other webpages containing defamatory material. See this comment from Wiggin LLP on this case.

Domestic privacy/data protection litigation against Google

The case of Vidal-Hall v Google Inc saw Mr Justice Tugendhat grant permission to serve a claim extra-territorially. In so doing, he made a number of potentially significant observations about data protection and the privacy impact of Google’s activities through Apple’s Safari browser. The Court of Appeal is considering the appeal against the Tugendhat judgment next week. The ICO has been granted permission to intervene.

Police information

This week, the Supreme Court has heard appeals in the Catt and T cases, which concern the application of Article 8 ECHR and the DPA to information retained by the Metropolitan Police about persons who were not said to have committed criminal offences.

Next week, the Court of Appeal hears the case of Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis & X v Z (Children) & the Secretary of State for the Home Department, which concerns whether DNA profiles obtained under Part II of PACE (police powers to gather evidence from crime scenes) may lawfully be disclosed for purposes other than criminal law enforcement.

Medical information and confidentiality

Permission has also been granted to appeal in W and Others v Secretary of State for Health and Another [2014] EWHC 1532 (Admin), which concerns the disclosure of by the NHS of information about unpaid NHS debts by non-UK residents to departments of the UK government. One of the issues is the extent (if any) to which patient confidentiality applies to such information.

Panopticon understands that the British Medical Association has been given permission to intervene, and that the case will be before the Master of the Rolls (among others). The case is due to be heard next spring.

MPs’ expenses and the meaning of ‘information’ for FOIA purposes

Another case due before the Court of the Appeal (including the Master of the Rolls) next spring is IPSA v Information Commissioner, which concerns a FOIA request by Ben Leapman (then of the Daily Telegraph) for copies of original receipts submitted by a number of named MPs in support of their expenses claims. Issues include the meaning of ‘information’ for the purposes of FOIA.

The EIRs – public authorities and charges

The Fish Legal litigation – concerning the meaning of a ‘public authority’ for EIR purposes – has returned from the CJEU and has been heard by the Upper Tribunal. Piggy-backing onto this case are other appeals concerning whether the Duchy of Cornwall and the Sovereign are public authorities for EIR purposes.

In the opposite direction of travel, the CJEU will next week consider the case of East Sussex CC v ICO & LGA, a referral from the Tribunal on the question of reasonable charges for the provision of information under the EIRs.

As ever, watch this space.

Panopticon is also pleased to highlight the heavy presence of 11KBW counsel in the majority of the cases referred to above.

Robin Hopkins @hopkinsrobin