04 July 2016

Important lessons for transatlantic celebrities

Amber Melville-Brown
Partner | US

After the whole world debated the identity of a married couple known as 'PJS' and 'YMA' earlier this year, we wanted to highlight what this latest news actually means for the privacy of you and your global clients in the digital age.  So, what was the story? A celebrity couple were faced with news breaking in the world's press about their sex life, specifically a threesome. One half of the couple (PJS) obtained a privacy injunction in the London courts – this injunction promptly became the subject of sensationalist gossip and speculations, fixing itself in the headlines of the world's press and social media for months, and eventually the identities of the couple were revealed. This case was a vital development in the battle between those who want to expose private information, and those who want to establish a way to defend privacy in the world of online news – one that highlighted the murky scope of effectiveness of injunctions across legal and geographical borders.  What could this mean for me and my clients?     In an irony that will not be lost on the media, if they sought to use this high profile case as a poster-boy for judicial silliness and to show up the domestic courts of England and Wales as powerless against the might of the media in an online world, they failed. Rather, the Supreme Court in England and Wales has posited even more forcefully, the right of individual citizens to have their privacy protected where there is no public interest justification for it to be exposed. Rather than weaken privacy laws in the UK they have, in fact, been strengthened. That said, our globally mobile clients are still not safe in their beds – or the beds of others for that matter – because it is apparent from this case that the omniscient Internet does not allow our domestic laws of England and Wales to provide a fool-proof blackout curtain against the windows of private life, keeping the prying eyes of the papers at bay. But having forced the Supreme Court's hand, the so-called 'watchdog and bloodhound of society' that is the press will likely be well and truly in the doghouse with the judiciary if it continues to savage the private lives of individuals where it cannot justify that mauling with a legitimate public interest justification.   For further commentary please click here and here.

Category: Blog