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back to article Mosley asks Europe to change UK privacy laws

Motor racing chief Max Mosley has applied to the European Court of Human Rights in an attempt to reform the UK's privacy laws. He wants editors to be forced to tell people when they are about to publish stories about them. Mosley won the highest-ever UK privacy payout when the News of the World was ordered to pay £60,000 in …

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Privacy, or publicity

honestly, I'd completely forgotten about this, and now I'm reminded of it it seems that Max Mosely not only likes a bit of slap and tickle in an alleged holocaust roleplay, but that he also wants to restrict the freedom of the press to serve his own ends.

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Paris Hilton

As much as I don't like Mosley...

... he (shudder) does have a point...

Well, if someone violated my (orgiastic) privacy for 60,000 pounds, I might not initially think, I'd mind. After the divorce payout, though, not to mention all the hassle and distress, I would possibly prefer the option of simply stopping the news before it hits the shelves. Not that anyone would bother publishing my private life, mind you, but still.

AC, because my wife knows how to use the interweb-thingy...

PH, because she gets her privacy violated for money all the time...

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Paris Hilton

in Privates or Pubic?

Oh yes Maxochist, the guy who as president of an international sports federation which claims to work with governments on matters of road safety and vehicle development claims he ISNT a public figure. Max you are about as public as you can get without being in politics, you have courted controversy with the way you have (mis)managed major F1 issues, there is no way on this earth you can honestly claim to be "non-public" with any credibility!

If they give into him on this then the law is as twisted as maxochists own personal appetites!

(Paris cos she too has experienced (public) backlash)

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But the press

want freedom of the press to serve their own ends.

A "record" fine of a few £K isn't going to dent the huge profits of the major tabloids, so they can effectively publish with impunity, safe in the knowledge that any old bollocks wrapped up as "news" which damages the reputation of anybody will get nothing more than a token slap on the wrist.

How about making the punishment be 100% of the sales for the papers that carried the story. Might make them be a bit more honest in the stories they carry then.

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IT Angle

Wow!!

This actually makes some sense it is a shame there is absolutely no chance of anything like it becoming law. Unfortunately it would be completely unworkable in the vast majority of cases. Can you imagine Hello or Today having to notify every C-List Celeb they publish a photo or line about every time? They would go out of business... oh... wait... that might be a good thing....!

But getting back to reality, the reasoning behind the idea is totally valid. Newspapers can effectively publish what they like in this regard since the financial penalties are relatively small. Perhaps instead of just suing the newspaper the person in question could bring criminal charges against the editor (and others) who allowed the story to be run. That might make editors and similar think more carefully about whether they can defend the publication of the story.

In any case the problem is that once run, whatever the validity and/or legality of a story, it can't be un-run. Similarly once our privacy has been invaded and broken there is no way to unbreak it, and in some situations no amount of money can compensate for the loss so you can't use money to mend the wounds. The question then remains how do we reconcile this situation?

In any case - what's the IT angle here?

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>restrict the freedom of the press

He's right though...

The freedom of the press in this case seems to be the freedom to tell lies, blackmail, and destroy reputations. If there's a right to privacy, it should include the right to stop the breach of privacy happening, not to pick up a cheque later, which is,. lets face it, big **** deal...

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Ghastly man!

And I thought that before I knew about him using prostitutes en-masse for 5-on-1 sex fests or his alleged £75K/year spend on paid-for sex. Yuck...

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Enforceable rights

So much as I could care less about Max Mosley, I do find myself in agreement with him here. If we are to have rights we MUST be able to enforce them so they are respected. No matter which business he runs, he is still entitled to the same right of privacy, and whatever his likes and dislikes are his own business. He is not setting standards by which others must live (MPs) or enforcing those standards (police, judges and magistrates) and should have every expectation that his private life is precisely that, private.

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Anonymous Coward

heh

I dunno, press seem a bit too free to plaster sleeze all over their pages, the whole free press thing was more ment for covering important stories as opposed to fred blogs football star bangs black shemale in hardcore sexfest.

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"shudder"

he dose have a point

*shudder*

sooo un clean......

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Silver badge

We do not equate the public interest with whatever the public is interested in...

... so says the Press Complaints Commission's own guidelines for editors.

What Max Mosley did had *nothing* to do with his job as head of F1, nor did he do it in a public place or display it for public consumption. What we did have, however, is a gutter tabloid rag which decided that invading someone's privacy for a bit of salacious scandal mongering would boost their circulation figures.

Unfortunately, whilst I entirely understand his reasoning, it's very unlikely that his requests will actually be acted upon because that would tip the balance too far away from the ability of the media to publish stories which are "in the public interest" ie *of benefit* to the public.

What he would, IMO, be better advised to do, is to get the PCC changed from a toothless watchdog which is stuffed with newspaper editors whose only interest is covering each other's backs to an organisation which can actually require editors to be dismissed or journalists sacked if they publish prurient tittle-tattle like this with no real justification other than "it will sell more papers".

Perhaps that will then make the press less inclined to do this sort of "expose".

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Bankrupt over night...

The Sun would be out of print within a week... I say do it!

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Flame

Hope he wins....

The Sun/Star/Mirror and glossies such as CelebJunkTattle would all go out of business in a week, leaving browsing the magazine racks a much less harrowing experience.

<-bonfire of red-top tabloids

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Boffin

Freedom to publish is vital

Without it, no scandals would be uncovered, no paper would investigate corruption, politicians would have a free hand to do what they liked.

I agree that the financial damages awarded to Mr. Mosley were too small to make the paper think twice, but the solution is to increase the damages or to use criminal rather than financial penalties. Destroying a reputation should not be taken lightly by the papers, but neither should censorship is worse.

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To those who say he has a point-

Do you mean he has a point, and perhaps privacy is not sufficently protected? Or that his specific idea for changing this a good one?

How might this change how newspapers report other stories- Say, about a corrupt politician? Cat burgler? Murderer?

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one law for the rich ...

... and famous, another law for the rest of us. I see that at the same time as this story the Reg is carrying an article of a super-database that will track almost all our communications.

Privacy appears to be becoming one of those quaint old-fashioned concepts that only exist if you can afford a lawyer.

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@Mark/Chris

Well, I guess the question has to be:-

"What change in legislation would prevent this behaviour from being repeated"

I think we can all bet that as things stand now if the same newspaper people were given the same story they'd do the same thing again, and I really don't think that's a good thing. Its not just Mosley, its the other people involved.

Its still a wonder for me that no-one has gone to gaol - the judge said, for insteance, that the journalists were blackmailing the other participants. How come that never went to court I wonder?

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Anonymous Coward

This would be unworkable

The papers would have to notify everyone about every story, and there would have to be sufficient time for the subject to object and then for the paper to appeal to a higher office for a final judgement.

And this would have to be for everyone mentioned and all in time for the morning delivery or it becomes old news.

If you want to prevent papers abusing their power then you have to have severe penalties for those that carry out the abuse.

However, we already have a situation where if you suffer a loss due to libel you can seek the redress of that loss.

So, say a person known as "M" is videoed having a leather themed orgy with 5 prostitutes, say. A paper then publishes that and maybe embellishes it a little to sell copy.

"M" then complains about the loss of privacy and that many of the embellishments are untrue and harmful.

It goes to court and there are a number of possible "hurts" suffered by "M", which may include damage to reputation, damage to character, loss of marriage, loss of job.

The judge would normally look at the damages that are caused by this and put a financial cost on them for damages purposes, however it is unreasonable to expect a court to find the paper liable for any breakup of marriage as if the whoremongering never happened then any reasonable wifey would accept this, and if it did happen then it is unreasonable to punish a paper for simply reporting the truth.

Personally I am amazed that Max received anything from the courts other than being told to go away and grow up, but there you go.

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Good On Max!

I hope he wins, the tabloids, especially ones owned by Rupert Murdoch, are a law onto themselves, what good is a 60k fine to them? It's about time people's right to privacy was more respected.

fu!* the freedom of press, they have abused that for years.

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Coat

@The Other Mark : re To those who say he has a point

Yes he has a point. But I think you would have to restrict his point to questions involving privacy. Anything on public record is not private so wouldn't be affected. Clearly exactly what would constitute a story where you need to inform the subject ahead of time would need to be defined.

Perhaps there could be some series of levels of expected privacy.

eg. (at each level you get protection included in all levels below that level)

Highest Privacy Protection - all stories with that subject to get notification

Higher Privacy Protection - any story with a possible negative effect require notification

Standard Privacy Protection - any story with a large possible effect requires notification

Lower Privacy Protection - some sub-set of stories with specific content require notification

Lowest Privacy Protection - most stories require no notification

At each level there would be types of story that would require notification of the subject and those that would require no notification of the subject. In general you would get Standard Privacy Protection, but you could request Higher or Highest Privacy Protection. You could require that all Politicians or whoever are at the Lower or Lowest Levels of protection. Celebrities or other who place themselves in the public eye could have their status set to a lower level of protection.

This data could be stored in a private database with contact details for all those included in the database. Contact details would be obscured from users (so hacks and others couldn't get contact details) with contact made using an intermediary (eg you phone and ask is zzz allowed to be published about yyy? If not could you please foward a request for zzz to be published).

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Anonymous Coward

Remember Robert Murrat?

I agree with Max Mosely. The newspapers have nothing holding them back from utterly destroying lives for the sakes of selling more papers. In Robert Murrat's case it was newspapers themselves who reported him to the local police for looking a bit shifty (well he does have a glass eye after all, classic villan trait), then took it in turns to report anything they fancied.

When the newspapers lose a case like this, the damages should be greater than the profit earned from their endeavours, otherwise, fines and damage awards just turn out to be a predictable expense of doing business and are included in the budget devised at the start of the year,

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Public

Yes the press has a right to report on stories but i'm sure its if its in the public intrest only. I support what Max is doing as he was doing something in the privacy of his hotel room, the only reason this came to light is because the news (thats a joke) of the world paid one of the hookers for the video clip and having paid so much for the clip they had to work out a way to make this headline stuff to cover the cost of the clip.

I find it disgusting that a surposed news paper (again where the news is i have no idea) can twist what they have into a story is disgusting just so they sell more papers thats it.

My solution would be to produce a paper that just has the sports news in it like they do in Spain and Italy i bet papers like the Sun, Star and Mirror would go out of buisness in a week?

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Paris Hilton

@ Mark

Your question itself reflects the problem with the current situation: namely, that any attempt to reign in the press is met with howls of "censorship" and "freedom of the media" from the vested interests (yes, I know you didn't). Naming and shaming a corrupt politician: obviously necessary. Naming and shaming a possible paedophile (thank you, Daily Mirror): more likely an invitation to mob rule. But hey, it makes us look good to morons.

Is it right that Mosley and paediatricians should have to suffer for the freedom of the sewer press to boost their sales by printing anything they please? Max's unpopular role within the FIA might have induced a little schadenfreude, but still I say no. The balance is too far towards the media and a little recalibration might even improve the quality of the UK's news (God help us - no, not you Rupert).

Of course, who is it that would actually decide whether a story was published or not under Mosley's system? Pity the poor bugger who would; damned if they do and damned if they don't.

Paris, because why would you care what she does in her 'private' life? Apart from titillation, of course (he he, I said "tit")

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hope he wins

much as I enjoyed the story :-)

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@Anonymous Coward Posted 13:19 GMT

Ok, so the corrupted politician story gets published. The murderer and cat burglar do not, as they have a higher level of privacy protection. Or, at least, the papers have to make a reasonable attempt at contacting those two first, to give them a chance to refute the story.

Presumable, the C(ult)hurch of Scienctology would be offered similiar protection- Or would they be downgraded? If so, under what rules? Catholic Church? Chess Club? CEO of a major company? Trigger happy Welsh cops who taser sheep? Reverand Peter Mullen? What is the rule that takes a Molsey to Paris Hilton level? It seems like a lot of work when perhaps setting liability equal or higher to estimated damages/estimated profit would produce a similiar result- That is, to make it uneconomical to print unconfirmed stories.

Everyone would have to register with this database, and keep current contact information on it. Who runs the database? Who pays for the staff to handle customer support of it? Can't let those without a computer, without computer skills, or even the homeless lack access to update their contact and privacy level.

It could interface with the NHS and National ID Database!

(Although, if it outlaws Paris Hilton stories, maybe it'll be worth it)

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This is NOT a Binary Decision!

This is one of those instances where everybody makes the same mistake. They fall into the binary trap. EITHER freedom of the press, OR decent privacy laws. Here's a possible solution. Bring a Jury into the picture. (this is an example of the kind of thing I'm talking about here: http://stottle.blogspot.com/2006/02/shortcut-to-democracy.html)

viz: Any time a paper is about to publish a story which contains a potential breach of privacy, it submits the story to a standing jury established for that purpose alone. It can even be a jury of its own readers, providing they can be shown to represent a reasonable cross section of the community. In practice this would be an online "advisory panel" whose job is to answer the single question, "Does the public interest in this case outweigh the private interest?" Their decision would be considered advisory only (leaving the editorial decision firmly in the hands of the publisher, where it belongs). BUT:

In any subsequent court case, the defendant would be able to use the Jury's endorsement as mitigation and, should the plaintiff win, the penalties would take into account the involvement of a jury and its decision.

For example, if a Jury has pronounced in favour of publication, the penalty would be minimised. If the Jury had advised against publication, the penalty would be maximised. If the Jury hadn't even been consulted, the penalty would be maximised, then doubled.

This would allow Juries to protect the public interest and, where reasonable, the private interests of individuals. It would encourage the media to take responsible, rather than merely commercial decisions.

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MGJ

What About Slander

Why would it only be written comments in newspapers where the publisher had to tell the subject first? Surely if I am about to speak about Max in a public area, I'd have to ring him up and tell him that first? Or if I'm going to publish a blog article on a subject? Where does it stop in a Web 2.0 world?

(And of course, publishers would just come and publish in Scotland, much like when Spycatcher was available there and not in the rest of the UK)

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Unhappy

erm, did he actually deny it?

"The News of the World printed details and published an online video of an orgy which they said had Nazi overtones.'

Or was he just p1ssed that they published that he was in it and made the video available for anyone to view? I mean, it might have been news if Jacqui had been in the same game at the same time...hmmmmm.

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Paris Hilton

@This is NOT a Binary Decision!

It seems you are confusing "The Public Interest" and "The Interests of the Public". They are different things, just because people want to know about something doesn't make it in the public interest for them to know.

If you take it to the ultimate extreme, I would suggest a large proportion of the male (and a smaller proportion of the female) population want to know what Jessica Alba looks like naked, but it isn't in the public interest for them to know ...

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Anonymous Coward

MM == twat

Just as we have dickwads in politics we also have them in "public" life.

I really hope this RW cameltoe gets his comeuppance.

/don't give a fark

//slashies

///F1? the most boring "sport" on the planet after golf, tennis, football and anything other than WRC

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Paris Hilton

@ @This is NOT a Binary Decision!

"a large proportion of the male (and a smaller proportion of the female) want to know what Jessica Alba looks like naked"

You understand that its for research purposes only.....

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Paris Hilton

@ @ @This is NOT a Binary Decision!

Yes.... All in the name of comparative anatomy research.... which also explains my repeated viewings of a certain Paris-ian Film beloved of Reg readers.

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Unhappy

Max Headlice

Just how exactly is an orgy a private activity? A poor guy in MI5 loses his job 'cos his wife's doing a bit of moonlighting on Mosley, and this self-pitying perv's still not got the decency to resign. Even the Hamiltons would have left by now.

It's the News of the Screws for goodness sake: of course they're going to publish, and why not? Personally I can't believe they lost the case: were the Profumo / Lambton / Parkinson / Mellor / Ashdown affairs only reportable because they were all politicians? What about all the clergymen, milkmen, housewives and other latex-wearing sheep-shagging wife-swapping hyphen-bearers the rag has unfrocked for our national education? Why should Mr Mosley be any different, except he's a barrister who's read the ECHR as well as a public figure?

God bless the Sun, for today anyway, and keep our courtrooms free of litigious sinners who protest too much after getting caught with their pants down.

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After the bankers...

the press are the worst kind of scum there is; the gutter press at least. Anything which would starve a few papparazo's could sit nicely with me.....odd hey? You sit in front of someone's house and follow them around and you're a stalker and get arrested, do it with a camera and it's legal...?? Though we should support fellow vultures I say no to them!

Think of a world free of such publications......

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Flame

no sympathy from me

He cheated, he got found out. Serves him right, creepy old bugger.

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Jay
Pirate

Contact or not?

Years ago back in the days of Sir Peter Harding and Bienvenida Buck I did a bit of courier work for one of the reporters involved in the above case. He told me they usually contacted the people involved in an article to offer them a chance to put their side across, that way they often found out even more dirt than they already had.

I have to wonder if Mr Mosley was contacted prior to print?

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Anonymous Coward

I thought it was the Nazi think that did it.

I must have misread it but I took it that what they did was OK apart from the fact that they stated the Nazi overtones and the defence relied on arguments there weren't.

I thought that was what the damages award was for.

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