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Application for leave to intervene in Biancardi v. Italy

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  1. Newsgathering

Update: After receiving permission from the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in Biancardi v. Italy in May 2020, the Reporters Committee and a coalition of 29 news media organizations submitted written comments arguing that the court should strike a balance between the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the right to be forgotten. “This analysis shows that a broad application of the right to be forgotten — that is, one that would force newspapers to regularly and frequently delete articles from their digital archives — would encroach on the core of the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 10,” attorneys for Covington & Burling wrote on behalf of the media coalition.

On April 22, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 29 media organizations applied for leave to intervene in a “right-to-be-forgotten” case before the European Court of Human Rights. The case, Biancardi v. Italy, concerns the application of the right to be forgotten against an online newspaper that refused to comply with a request to delete a story about a 2008 stabbing incident between two brothers.

An Italian court ordered the publication’s editor to pay €10,000 in reputational damages, which forced the journalist to shut down the news site. The Italian Supreme Court upheld the order, but the editor’s application with the European Court of Human Rights claims that his right to freedom of expression has been breached.

The European Court of Human Rights will consider two questions in this case: whether there was a violation of the editor’s right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and whether the Italian authorities appropriately balanced the right to expression versus the right to reputation.

In its application for leave to intervene, the media coalition, with the help of law firm Covington & Burling, proposes to focus on the second question and provide an overview of how different jurisdictions, including U.S. courts, have interpreted and balanced these rights.

Read the full application for leave to intervene.