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Calling lawyers and data protection gurus

(118 Posts)
MsBeaujangles Wed 21-Mar-18 10:20:39

What is the legal situation when it comes to being placed on a published list which is claimed to be a list of 'TERFs and transphobes'?
I am thinking defamation of character comes in to play if the suggestion is that the people on the list are bigoted, incite hate and deny trans people their rights. I am on such a list and am confident that I have not said anything remotely even 'anti trans'.
I think sending Cease and Desist letters could legitimately be sent, demanding the list holder immediately cease and desist their unlawful defamation and provide prompt written reassurance within 10 days they they will cease and desist from further defamation.
Whilst the list is of Twitter names, my account is not anonymous.

Also, is there anything preventing people from applying defamation law when they are very publicly called transphobic?

PsychoPumpkin Wed 21-Mar-18 10:24:39

Have you been placed on this list?

MrsFogi Wed 21-Mar-18 10:26:04

I don't claim to know anything about this etc but you may also want to look a the new rules from the General Data Protection Register if your name etc is being put on such a list.

MsBeaujangles Wed 21-Mar-18 10:39:51

I’m on the list.
I have been on Twitter for 5 years. I’ve tweeted less than 50 times, including retweets!
None of my tweets or retweets could be construed as transphobic!

KochabRising Wed 21-Mar-18 10:42:23

Is this the LM blocklist?

I’m very interested to see what the legal view is on this.

MsBeaujangles Wed 21-Mar-18 10:52:17

That’s the one!

Nosetothesun Wed 21-Mar-18 11:07:41

There may be other questions to consider...

Why was TERFblocker set up?
How else can it be used?
Who was involved in managing it (there are a number now not just LM's)?
In collecting this data, in what circumstances might this be helpful now and in the future?
Are there benefits gained from so much focus being on LM?
Who gains from having this data?
Are there a number of ways Terfblocker could be used and if so
what are the implications of being blocked from the accounts of people who would be involved in TRA or seeing their Twitter activity?
If there are accounts which add huge numbers, why might this be?
Could there be deliberate, strategic aspects?

GalwayGalery Wed 21-Mar-18 11:17:48

I've just emailed legal_queries@labour.org.uk to complain about my full (very unusual) name on the list. I am furious and I was scathing, I work in higher education and some of my students follow LM, it is a matter of time before I'm called in 'for words'. I included in my complaint that I appreciate their low intellect and immaturity but it is no excuse for this. I have never interacted with them, nor tweeted / re-tweeted anything transphobic, yet apparently twitter is safer without me? I'm fucking livid.

SirVixofVixHall Wed 21-Mar-18 11:18:39

I am on the list too (have another thread about it). I assume I am on it largely because of who I follow- well known feminists including Karen Ingala Smith and Julie Bindell. I've never engaged with, or tried to follow, Lily M, and I am a polite Tweeter.( I mainly tweet about things entirely unrelated to feminism). I am deeply concerned about the repercussions of being on the list, especially possible violence, as my real name has been published.

SirVixofVixHall Wed 21-Mar-18 11:19:38

Galway, I am fucking livid too. Solidarity.

CeciledeVolanges Wed 21-Mar-18 11:20:32

I am neither lawyer nor data protection guru, but I am a law student and i would suggest the following:

1) do check out the General Data Protection Regulation (must be implemented by 25 May 2018) and the Data Protection Bill currently going through Parliament, although I think if the list has been published in any way in a way which would tend to undermine the views of right-thinking people towards you it could be defamation, see also the case of Clift v Slough Borough Council. I'm not sure how useful that is though unless you have any legally qualified or very rich people on the list who want to take legal action, as legal aid is not available for defamation claims.

2) If the list is held by a public authority, have you considered a freedom of information request to disclose the list and the names on it? Even if they refuse, you can escalate your request.

3) Nosetothesun's points aren't really legally relevant. But they might be relevant for some kind of expose or investigative journalism if you can find a journalist or news source to publicise it.

MissPiggysKarateChop Wed 21-Mar-18 11:26:03

@GalwayGalery and @SirVixofVixHall I am angry on your behalf, this could have repercussions in your off line life and quite frankly...

I am on the list too (have another thread about it). I assume I am on it largely because of who I follow- well known feminists including Karen Ingala Smith and Julie Bindell.

You should not be put on a list claiming your are any kind of bigot because of who you follow - you could be following them for any number of reasons. In this case these are well respected, intelligent women who are published or doing important work, why the hell shouldn't you follow them? It is ridiculous.

I'm sick of the way Labour excuse this person as if they are some poor lamb while interrogating and expelling women for far less. Labour where is the accountability in your party? Does it not apply to everyone now?

AssignedPuuurfectAtBirth Wed 21-Mar-18 11:35:42

Interesting

I wonder what the legal position is being added to a lists on twitter which have names like 'Die Cis Scum', TERF Cunts', 'Cunts' and Die Cunts'

I am on many lists like this, yet twitter do nothing about it. But throw me in twitter jail regulary for saying a male cannot become a female.

KochabRising Wed 21-Mar-18 11:38:54

3) Nosetothesun's points aren't really legally relevant

Actually I think some of them are, in relation to GDPR.

RedToothBrush Wed 21-Mar-18 13:36:34

Defamation of character I suspect would be highly relevant, especially if you can demonstrate that being accused of something you haven't done - which relates to something on twitter - has had a negative effect on your employment or role in an organisation.

This would include being called in for a disciplinary even if no action was taken, because of the stress it might cause you.

But having to demonstrate you had been affected negatively is not necessarily a obstacle.

The big thing to prove if you went down this route was that you had been the victim of 'serious harm'.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation_Act_2013
The Defamation Act 2013 (c 26) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which reformed English defamation law on issues of the right to freedom of expression and the protection of reputation. It also comprised a response to perceptions that the law as it stood was giving rise to libel tourism and other inappropriate claims.

The Act changed existing criteria for a successful claim, by requiring claimants to show actual or probable serious harm (which, in the case of for-profit bodies, is restricted to serious financial loss), before suing for defamation in England or Wales, setting limits on geographical relevance, removing the previous presumption in favour of a trial by jury, and curtailing sharply the scope for claims of continuing defamation (in which republication or continued visibility constitutes ongoing renewed defamation). It also enhanced existing defences, by introducing a defence for website operators hosting user-generated content (provided they comply with a procedure to enable the complainant to resolve disputes directly with the author of the material concerned or otherwise remove it), and introducing new statutory defences of truth, honest opinion, and "publication on a matter of public interest" or privileged publications (including peer reviewed scientific journals), to replace the common law defences of justification, fair comment, and the Reynolds defence respectively. However, it did not quite codify defamation law into a single statute.

The defences are on the wiki page and lie with the person who defamed to show that they had reason to believe (evidence) that you were indeed what they said you were.
the actual act here for more detail ink{http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/26/crossheading/defences/enacted\www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/26/crossheading/defences/enacte]]d}

In this case, I would suggest this defence would not hold up well in court.

The actual text of the Defamation Act 2013 is here:
www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/26/contents/enacted

The serious harm clause is here:

Serious harm
(1)
A statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.^
(2)
For the purposes of this section, harm to the reputation of a body that trades for profit is not “serious harm” unless it has caused or is likely to cause the body serious financial loss.

I would argue that if you were 'likely to lose your job' from this or actually had would potentially be sufficient grounds (hence why being called in for a disciplinary even if no action was taken would be a big deal).

I'm not a lawyer nor have any legal training, so don't take my word for it. From this though, I'd say there might be reason to pursue this further and consult with an actual lawyer.

(FTW, I don't think I've seen much on MN that would class as defamation against Lily, simply because there is a very good defence in that its in the public interest because of the office and role Lily holds...)

RedToothBrush Wed 21-Mar-18 13:38:16

Sorry that dodgy link above
www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/26/crossheading/defences/enacted

AnchorDownDeepBreath Wed 21-Mar-18 13:39:37

* Actually I think some of them are, in relation to GDPR.*

You're right; but they wouldn't apply until GDPR comes into force.

RedToothBrush Wed 21-Mar-18 13:42:53

I'm guessing that serious harm might also include being the victim of a twitter pile on (harm to mental health) or receiving abusive or threatening messages (threat to your personal safety which might be carried out) or some sort of doxing (again threat to your personal safety)

KochabRising Wed 21-Mar-18 13:43:47

You're right; but they wouldn't apply until GDPR comes into force.

Absolutely.

Since every single reputable company i know is scrambling to get GDPR readiness in place before May, it does cast labour in a rather a bad light. Unaware or just not caring? Neither is good.

Lily appears to be completely unaware of how to operate in the world at large. They are a liability to the LP. Surely all political parties have social media policies and training? And someone monitoring output (and response)?

RedToothBrush Wed 21-Mar-18 13:44:11

GDPR is totally irrelevant at present. It only is after it comes into law and actions after that date only may be enforced only.

MsBeaujangles Wed 21-Mar-18 13:46:24

Just had a good chat with a lawyer who says that it sounds like there is a good libel case. There are also data protection issues, but I am interested in the serious harm to reputation angle as a result of being on the list. Due to my professional role and the people who follow me on Twitter, this isn't all that hard to prove.

So far, I have seen that LM has referred to the list as follows: ‘I'm sharing my block list which you can subscribe to here [link to list]. It’s important twitter is a safe space for trans people and unfortunately that means utilising things like this. Please RT for trans users!’.

If LM has made any further references to the list, please can you send me a screen shot.

The lawyer has suggested I contact LM to advise they cease and desist and, within 10 days, provide written assurance of this. I will ask for my details to be removed from the list, for reassurance that they will not be placed on it again and for a public statement to be made that the the list contained details of people who had done no wrong. If that fails, the lawyer will send a formal cease and desist letter and we’ll take it from there.

RedToothBrush Wed 21-Mar-18 13:58:27

Good stuff.

This was inevitable. It has to come to this.

Perhaps the Labour Party have been waiting for this to happen as a way to get rid, and will throw under the bus when the shit hits the fan rather than be the ones to take action themselves...

DarthArts Wed 21-Mar-18 14:00:36

The only other thing I saw LM related to the list was saying no one they represent is on it.

Not easy to fathom what that means. Is is anyone in LM's CLP? And if so how does LM know this?

Not everyone uses their real name or gives their location. In the other thread it was suggested LM might be cross checking with LP data but I'm probably a bit skeptical about that tbh but who knows.

DarthArts Wed 21-Mar-18 14:05:01

OP I think quite a few people are concerned about this.

Is it worth sending a letter as a joint action as it were with multiple signatories?

Appreciate this may be more complex - so just a thought.

Possibly there's more weight behind sending multiple letters but maybe it's good to coordinate them perhaps and agree the salient points to make?

CircleSquareCircleSquare Wed 21-Mar-18 14:12:36

What interests me in all this, is you can be placed on a list of people who are making Twitter an unsafe space for trans people for “liking” a tweet.

Twitter has been round for over a decade now, until about a year ago what is now the heart button was a star button. Many people used that not only to “like” a tweet but to bookmark something for later reading. It would be safe to say many people still use heart as a bookmark facility.

So not only are people like LM policing (which is what they are doing because they are making people fear for their jobs and reputations) which tweets you like but also tweets you may be bookmarking for future reference or to read a link later on. That suggests to me they want to label people for 1. engaging with opinion and 2. stop people reading things that they don’t like. Now you can’t even read an opposing view point without being placed on a list.

I’m not on the list but will donate serious sums to anyone who wants to pursue this if there is a genuine legal case to be heard.

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