The Techlaw News Round-Up

April 11, 2019

ICO fines television company £120,000 for unfair and unlawful filming in maternity clinic

A television production company (TVP) which unfairly and unlawfully filmed patients at a maternity clinic has been issued with a monetary penalty of £120,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office.  It set up CCTV-style cameras and microphones at a clinic for a television documentary.  Although TVP had the hospital trust’s permission to be on site, it neither provided patients with adequate information about the filming nor obtained adequate permission from those affected by the filming in advance. A patient attending the clinic would not have reasonably expected there to be cameras in examination rooms and would expect to be made aware of any filming.

ICO fines Bounty £400,000 for sharing personal data unlawfully

The ICO has also issued Bounty (UK) Limited, a pregnancy and parenting club, with a monetary penalty notice of £400,000 for illegally sharing personal information belonging to more than 14 million people.  The ICO’s investigation found that Bounty collected personal information to register members through its website and mobile app, merchandise pack claim cards and directly from new mothers at hospital bedsides. However, it also operated as a data broking service, supplying data to third parties for electronic direct marketing. Therefore, it breached the Data Protection Act 1998 by sharing approximately 34.4 million records with organisations including credit reference and marketing agencies.  The personal information shared was not only of potentially vulnerable, new mothers or mothers-to-be but also of very young children, including the birth date and gender. The investigation found that for online registrations, Bounty’s privacy notices had a reasonably clear description of the organisations they might share information with, but none of the largest recipients were listed.  Additionally, none of the merchandise pack claim cards and offline registration methods had an opt-in for marketing purposes.

Cases on Electronic Communications Code

The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) has held in Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Limited v Compton Beauchamp Estates Limited (2019 UKUT0107 (LC)) that it did not have jurisdiction to provide an order granting rights on the landowner because it was not in occupation of the site in question, Vodafone was.  The facts of the case were unusual but it illustrates the need to find out who is occupying land before seeking the grant of rights under the Electronic Communications Code.  The UT also considered allied issues in Cornerstone
Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd v Keast
[2019] UKUT 116 (LC)
, including rights over electronic communications equipment and that it was incorrect to suggest that the claimant’s statement of case sought rights that were different from those sought in its notice given under the Code.

Action taken against gambling ads targeted at children

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has taken action to ban advertisements from five gambling operators which were served to child avatars on children’s websites contrary to the UK advertising codes. Over a two week monitoring period in 2018, the ASA identified ads by 43 gambling operators in non-logged-in, online environments. Five of those gambling operators broke the strict advertising rules which prohibit gambling ads being targeted at under-18s. The gambling operators have accepted their ads broke the rules, saying the problems arose due to errors by third-party companies who served the campaigns on their behalf. The ASA told the companies to take immediate action to review their online ads, ensure they are not served to web users aged below 18 through the selection of media or context in which they appear and to put measures in place to ensure this does not happen again. The ASA is now considering if the monitoring and enforcement approach can be extended to logged-in environments like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

Brexit guidance updated and legislation passed

The UK government has issued updated guidance on mobile roaming charges and .eu domain names covering both the situations where the UK leaves the EU without a deal or if it leaves under the terms of the withdrawal agreement. In addition, the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations and Non-Contractual Obligations (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 SI 2019/834 have been made, which amend legislation in the field of private international law and, in particular, amend legislation determining the law applicable to contractual and non-contractual obligations in the case of conflict of laws.