‘There is an article about me online that I disagree with – what are my options?’
There are a number of civil remedies available should you find yourself the subject of unwanted media publications, these are typically:
- commencing a claim for defamation and/or one of the other relevant tortious causes of action
- writing to each publisher separately citing your rights as a data subject under GDPR/the Data Protection Act 2018 (“DPA”) and/or submitting requests directly to search engines to ask for the de-listing of relevant web pages
- complaining about the conduct of regulated publishers to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (“IPSO”).
The applicability of each of the above remedies is circumstance dependent, they are not however mutually exclusive and a combination of them may be required for maximum effect.
III. Complain to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (“IPSO”)
IPSO is the independent regulator for newspapers and magazines within the UK. It is responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the Editors’ Code1 which all member entities are bound to comply with. Where correspondence with the publisher has proven unproductive, seeking IPSO’s intervention (where that publisher is a member of IPSO) can be a helpful alternative.
IPSO has a range of powers including the ability to fine publishers up to £1 million and to compel corrections and/or apologies.
Where there is a legal issue in dispute, and you are within a year of the date of the relevant publication, IPSO can also be considered as a viable alternative to the court process due to its arbitration scheme2. The scheme is low cost to access and can achieve a faster resolution than court proceedings.
In short, the scheme involves the appointment of an independent media law barrister to adjudicate the dispute between the parties. The IPSO arbitrator (may amongst other remedies):
- grant damages up to a value of £60,000
- require the publisher to desist from the offending conduct
- require the publisher to delete the offending information from its website or other platforms over which it has control.
There are multiple options available for seeking redress against publications that infringe your rights. The optimal outcome in your dispute may be achievable by a combination of the options outlined in this series or a single remedy alone, however each dispute will be unique and may require the correctly timed use of several remedies as part of tactically nuanced approach.