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U.S. Website Running Investigative Journalism Articles about a UK Resident Not Subject to the GDPR

Publications / Jan 31, 2021

Article written by Haim Ravia, Dotan Hammer and Adi Shoval

The High Court in England ruled that the GDPR does not apply to an American website that published investigative journalism articles about a resident of England, even though the investigative journalism activities involve the processing of personal data about that resident.

The case concerned a resident of England who filed a lawsuit in London against Forensic News, a U.S. based website, for libel and violation of his GDPR rights. The plaintiff alleged that the GDPR applies to the defendant website because it offers goods or services to data subjects in the EU, demonstrated by the facts that the publications on the website are in English; the website solicits donations in multiple currencies including Pound Sterling and Euro; the website includes an e-commerce “store” that ships merchandise to the UK; and invited readers from the UK and EU to subscribe to its fee-based platform.

The court found that the defendant has no establishment, representatives, or employees in the EU. The court also found the defendant’s only activities with a nexus to the claims asserted against it are its journalistic endeavors, yet those do not constitute an offering of goods or services to individuals in the EU, which is the criterium that triggers the applications of the GDPR. The court also mentioned that the fact that the defendant has more than a minimal readership in the UK is of no more than marginal relevance and could not, by itself, satisfy the GDPR’s criteria for extraterritorial application.

The court also mentions that the website’s use of cookies may qualify as monitoring behavior of EU data subject, which is another criterium that triggers the applications of the GDPR. However, such alleged monitoring is purely in the context of online advertisements, which have no relevance to the plaintiff’s complaint.

CLICK HERE to read the UK High Court’s Decision in Walter Tzvi Soriano v. Forensic News LLC, Case No: QB-2020-002450.  

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