Facebook Infringed Privacy of Convicted Sex Offender

CG v Facebook Ireland Ltd and another [2015] NIQB 11 saw the Northern Irish High Court find in the favour of a convicted sex offender and ordered the removal of a Facebook page set up to monitor sex offenders and paedophiles.

The Second Defendant was found liable for misuse of private information and harassment when he published information relating to the Claimant’s identity, criminal convictions and family members on a Facebook page called “Keeping our Kids Safe from Predators 2”. Facebook Ireland was also liable for misuse of private information.

The Claimant had a history of child sex offences committed more than two decades ago and was given a six-year jail sentence. After discovering his photographs and personal information identifying him as a sex offender on the Facebook page, he issued proceedings for harassment, misuse of private information and for a breach of his rights to privacy and freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment.

Lawyers for Facebook argued that it was neither ‘necessary nor proportionate to remove a page used by 4,000 people’. However, Mr Justice McCloskey decided that competing rights to privacy outweighed freedom of expression. The Claimant was awarded £20,000 in damages and an anti-harassment injunction was made against the Second Defendant. Facebook received a mandatory injunction requiring it to terminate the page in question.

This case has been emotive for obvious reasons, but it touches on the important debate concerning the balance between privacy and freedom of expression. It will be interesting to see if the English Courts refer to this judgment for similar cases.

For further information, please contact Dominic Green on 020 7227 7411 or dominic.green@rlb-law.com.


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