August 2, 2017
Dear Friends,

This week we are featuring two decisions from The Mexican Federal Institute of Access to Information and Data Protection (FIAPI) on what constitutes the processing of personal data by search engines and under what circumstances the deletion or deindexing of personal data would be an appropriate remedy to protect privacy. From Chile and Brazil we have rulings on the right to access information relating to the personal assets held by public officials and to their work related expenses, respectively. In a 2016 case, the US Supreme Court unanimously held that a Massachusetts statute establishing 35 foot buffer zones around the entrance of abortion clinics violated the First Amendment.
Enjoy reading the case analyses and we welcome your feedback!
Columbia Global Freedom of Expression would like to congratulate Sahar Aziz, one of our affiliated experts, for being appointed Professor of Law, Chancellor’s Social Justice Scholar, and Middle East and Legal Studies Scholar at Rutgers University Law School.

Turkey Court Orders Seven Cumhuriyet Journalists Freed

IPI and The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), in coalition with international free expression groups and professional journalist organisations, welcomed a ruling by a court in Istanbul freeing seven of 11 journalists held nearly nine months in a criminal case targeting the independent daily Cumhuriyet. But they expressed deep concerns over the case, saying it should not have been brought, and demanded the release of four others who still remain in prison.
FRANCE: Fact-finders reveal free media face new challenges in Macron era. Bosses who wield great economical and political power because of a concentration of media ownership, verbal threats and physical attacks on journalists are just some of the problems uncovered by the ECPMF’s fact-finding mission to France.

North America

United States

McCullen v. Coakley
Decision Date: June 26, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that a Massachusetts statute establishing 35 foot buffer zones around the entrance of abortion clinics violated the First Amendment because the restriction was overly broad. The Petitioners, who provided information to people entering clinics on the available alternative to abortion, challenged the statute on the basis that it violated their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Court reasoned that the statute was not content-based because a violation depended on where the speech was made, not what it said; nor was it viewpoint-discriminatory because exempting employees was not tantamount to authorizing them to speak about abortion. However, it held that the statute was not narrowly tailored because the State could have used less intrusive means to promote its legitimate interest in protecting public safety.

Latin America


Anonymous Applicant v. Google Mexico
Decision Date: July 26, 2015
The Mexican Federal Institute of Access to Information and Protection of Data (FIAIPD) ordered Google Mexico to de-index certain URLs from the Google Mexico search engine and delete personal data relating to an individual from its databases. It also ordered the initiation of proceedings for the imposition of sanctions against Google Mexico. The order was based on a request from an individual who claimed that a search of his name on a Google Mexico search engine provided links to URLs that disclosed his name, the name of his (deceased) father, the names of his brothers, and information pertaining to his business activities.  Citing the European Court of Justice's decision Google Spain v. AEPD and Mario Costeja Gonzalez ,the FIAIPD concluded that enabling the public to find someone’s private information through an online search engine was a form of data processing, and that Google Mexico was responsible for the processing of the applicant’s personal data in these circumstances, despite Google Mexico’s contention that the search engine was run by Google Inc. in the United States.
Anonymous Applicant v. Federal Board of Conciliation and Arbitration
Decision Date: March 16, 2011
The Mexican Federal Institute of Access to Information and Data Protection (FIAIDP) ruled that personal information relating to an individual involved in labor disputes that was published in official news bulletins constituted an historical record and therefore should not be deleted. The applicant was involved in a labor dispute before the Federal Board of Conciliation and Arbitration (Board), which had served legal documents concerning the case to the applicant through its official bulletin that was published and archived online. The applicant requested the Board remove his private data from the online bulletin because it exposed him to social and employment discrimination. The Board refused, explaining that it could only revise and not delete information. The FIAIDP upheld this refusal affirming the Board’s legal obligation to publish the bulletins as a public record of its activities and therefore the deletion of the applicant’s personal data from the bulletins and the Board’s archives would not be appropriate. However, the FIAIDP ruled that  the Board should take steps to de-index the information concerning the applicant from search engine results since that would be in line with the “right to be forgotten,” which every person has in relation to his or her personal data.


Empresa Folha da Manhã S/A v. The President of the House of Representatives
Decision Date: August 19, 2009
The Supreme Court of Brazil held that the House of Representatives has a duty to disclose information about the work-related expenses of its members to the media. The Court reasoned that Article 5 of the 1988 Constitution established the right to request and receive information from public bodies and, because those who hold public posts need to be accountable to the public, the media has the “right and duty” to inform the general public under Article 37 of the Constitution. The Court also found that, given the passage of a 2009 rule requiring representatives to provide information online about work-related expenses, “[i]t is inconceivable to deny access to documents that provide proof of public expenses which, in reality, should be voluntarily published through the Internet.”


In re Constitutionality of Law No. 20.088
Decision Date: December 6, 2005
The Constitutional Court of Chile held that constitutional amendments providing unrestricted public access to asset declarations of public officials were constitutional and did not conflict with the right to privacy guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution. The Court found that all holders of public office must demonstrate integrity in their actions and therefore transparency of their personal assets is in the public interest. However, government agencies administering the disclosures must take great care that the information is not abused.  The Court reasoned that the amendments did not disrupt the harmony between an individual's right to privacy and the public's right to access the declarations because personal property is “an attribute external to one’s personality,” and relates to an economic sphere which is distinct from the intimate personal sphere of privacy guaranteed by the Constitution.

Kazakhstan: On July 25, 2017, a court in the Southern-Kazakh City of Shimkent found the former chair of a Confederation of Independent Unions, Ms. Larisa Kharkova, guilty of embezzling funds from the Confederation. The Confederation itself was liquidated in January 2017 for administrative violations. Ms. Kharkova was given a four year suspended term. As reported last week, since the implementation of a restrictive trade union law in 2014, the Kazakh authorities began closing down trade unions across the country.
Kyrgyzstan: It was recently reported that sometime in June 2017 the October Regional Court in Bishkek declared the Muslim movement “Yaqyn Inkar” extremist and banned its activities in Kyrgyzstan. The movement is known for its advocacy for gender-segregated education and its members’ rejection of telephones and televisions. Its members became active in Kyrgyzstan three years ago. The General Commission on Religious Affairs commented that the movement refused to abide by law, hence its ban. Representatives of the movement were not notified of the judicial process and therefore could not defend the legality of their work.
Russia: On July 29, 2017, Vladimir Putin approved a law that banned the use of VPN services and anonymizer tools to access websites that have been banned in Russia. Under the law, the Ministry of Interior and the Federal Security Service will identify hosting providers used by VPN and anonymizer services to access banned sites. The law enforcement agencies would then request the hosting providers to prevent Russian internet users from accessing these services. The law will go into effect in November 2017.
Tajikistan: On July 21, 2017, Tajikistan’s Minister of Culture reported that a new commission will be set up to promote appropriate clothing to combat foreign culture. The establishment of the commission is part of a continuing trend in the country to curb the spread of what the government deems an Arab inspired Islamization of the population. In 2015, the mayor of Dushanbe, the nation’s capital, banned the sale of black dresses and head scarves that have become increasingly popular among some Muslim women.  

Other Noteworthy

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.

The Reality of Fake News in Kenya

This new report by Portland Communications
and GeoPoll provides the first ever data on the
prevalence and impact of fake news in Kenya.
UAE: A popular online magazine in Dubai is banned for a month for allegedly publishing “false news”. The magazine reported that courts in Dubai were in the process of liquidating dozens of failed real estate projects which weathered a severe property slump during the global financial crisis in 2009. It soon deleted the online article and posted an apology online but not before it was picked up by other publications. It said the piece was an “oversight” and related to projects dating from 2010 that are “now outdated.” 
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MEXICO: Enrique Benjamín Solís Arzola, former mayor of Silao, Guanajuato, Mexico, was sentenced to two years in prison for ordering the attack on journalist Karla Janeth Silva Guerrero, from the newspaper Heraldo de León, in September 2014. Solís Arzola is the first public official to be sentenced in the country for assaulting a journalist, according to Animal Político.
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