Saturday, March 31, 2007

Zooomr - Free pro photo hosting for bloggers

Zooomr are offering a free pro account to bloggers who host their images with them.

The only condition - you must host one of your blog photos with them. This is mine.

Up up and awayUp up and away Hosted on Zooomr

I'm very interested to see how Zooomr stacks up against Flickr. Unfortunately both have an annoying problem - try giving the url to somebody who isn't already familiar with the fun world of Web 2.0 naming. Chances are they'll end up at, or - all of which are (now very valuable because of all the misdirected traffic) parked domains. In effect, Flickr and Zooomr have a self-inflicted typosquatting problem.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blogger beware: Blog libel and privacy action settled for £150,000

The Guardian reports that an action by Martin Sorrell and Daniela Weber for libel and breach of privacy by way of email and blog has settled without admission of liability for a total of £150,000 - £120,000 to him, £30,000 to her. The level of the settlement (which included a nominal sum for the plaintiffs' costs) appears to reflect the plaintiffs' difficulty in linking the anonymous material to the defendants.

Background to the case:
Two former business partners of advertising boss Sir Martin Sorrell launched a "vicious" campaign against him on blogs and emails, a court heard today.

One of his former associates referred in a private email to the WPP boss as a "mad dwarf" and described the company's former chief operating officer in Italy as a "nympho schizo", the High Court in London was told.

Marco Benatti, WPP's former manager in Italy, and his lieutenant Marco Tinelli, were spurred to publish defamatory remarks after Sir Martin sacked Mr Benatti over allegations of financial irregularities at WPP's Italian business, Sir Martin's barrister said.

Opening his case at a libel and invasion of privacy trial, Desmond Browne QC said the two men had taken "countermeasures" against Sir Martin and WPP's chief operating officer in Italy, Daniela Weber. ...

The "counter-measures" against Sir Martin included a blog that appeared in March last year containing a "host of libels" against the WPP boss, Mr Browne said.

Although the blog was taken down after three days, another one appeared a month later, he said.

"The day that Sir Martin managed to get the blog taken down, Mr Benatti emailed his friends saying that blogs were like mushrooms, they sometimes pop up again the next time it rains," Mr Browne said.

"What could be a stronger pointer to Mr Benatti's knowledge of what was going on and his being the architect of the whole exercise than that email shortly after the blogs had been taken down suggested that blogs were like mushrooms?"

Mr Browne said the other "countermeasure" was a series of emails that included a "vicious Jpeg image grossly intruding into the privacy of Sir Martin and Ms Weber".

"Naturally it would be to intrude further to even start to describe them. We say Mr Tinelli was directly involved in the dissemination of that vicious image.

"There is no doubt that he felt just as bitterly towards Sir Martin and Ms Weber as did his boss, Mr Benatti. I say 'no doubt' because on the very morning of the day the images were sent out by email he referred to them as the mad dwarf and the nympho schizo."

Mr Browne said that the two men had taken "elaborate steps to cover their tracks" but that computer evidence implicated them.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Data Protection Commissioner Guidance on CCTV in the Workplace and Biometrics in Schools

The Data Protection Commissioner has given two important guidance notes on the use of cctv in business premises and the use of biometrics in schools. In both case the guidance is very protective of privacy rights.

Significantly, the biometrics guidance takes a different approach to that recently adopted in England. The English approach has been to accept that once a minor is mature enough to give an informed consent to the use of biometrics in schools, parental consent is no longer required. Under this guidance, however, parental consent will always be necessary in the case of a minor, and if the minor is aged twelve or above they must also consent:
In the context of students attending a place of education, the Data Protection Commissioner would stipulate that the obtaining of consent is of paramount importance when consideration is being given to the introduction of a biometric system. It is the Commissioner’s view that when dealing with personal data relating to minors, the standards of fairness in the obtaining and use of data, required by the Data Protection Acts, are much more onerous than when dealing with adults. Section 2A(1)(a) of the Data Protection Acts states that personal data shall not be processed by a data controller unless the data subject has given his/her consent to the processing, or if the data subject by reason of his/her physical or mental incapacity or age, is or is likely to be unable to appreciate the nature and effect of such consent, it is given by a parent or guardian etc. While the Data Protection Acts are not specific on what age a subject will be able to consent on their own behalf, it would be prudent to interpret the Acts in accordance with the Constitution. As a matter of Constitutional and family law a parent has rights and duties in relation to a child. The Commissioner considers that use of a minor’s personal data cannot be legitimate unless accompanied by the clear signed consent of the child and of the child’s parents or guardian.

As a general guide, a student aged eighteen or older should give consent themselves. A student aged from twelve up to and including seventeen should give consent themselves and, in addition, consent should also be obtained from the student’s parent or guardian. In the case of children under the age of twelve, consent of a parent or guardian will suffice. All students (and/or their parents or guardians as set out above) should, therefore, be given a clear and unambiguous right to opt out of a biometric system without penalty. Furthermore, provision must be made for the withdrawal of consent which had previously been given.
Two aspects of this guidance may be significant in the future - in requiring a double lock (both parental and child consent) is there a possibility of a knock on effect in the area of marketing to children? (Where previously the consent of a child mature enough to give an informed consent would have sufficed.) Also, in imposing a strict test for determining when the use of biometrics is proportionate or necessary in education, will there be an impact on the use of biometrics in other sectors?

The Register has a good discussion of the biometrics guidance note here. I've previously blogged about this issue here.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Blogger beware - legal issues facing Irish bloggers

Many thanks to the IIA and Fleishman-Hillard for hosting a session on Blogging, New Media, Business and the Law. My presentation on issues such as defamation, contempt of court, copyright and privacy (ppt file) is available here and Brian Greene has podcast the event here. Tom Murphy gave a very interesting presentation on online marketing, and he's blogged about the event here.