15-year-old boy arrested over TalkTalk hack sues three newspapers for breach of privacy

Three British national newspapers have been sued by a 15-year-old boy over an alleged breach of his privacy. The teenager who is from Ireland, was arrested in connection with the TalkTalk cyber attack last month.

The Sun, Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph who allegedly identified the minor accused for breaking into the mobile and broadband provider’s data network have legal actions being taken against them by the lawyers of the teenager.

After the boy was arrested at his home in County Antrim, The Daily Telegraph revealed the name of the teenager on its website which was later removed.

Last month, the Northern Ireland teenager was questioned by police who were investigating the major hack on the phone and broadband provider websites. TalkTalk has said that more than 15,600 bank account numbers and sort codes were stolen and nearly 157,000 of its customers’ personal details were accessed.

The boy on suspicion of offences under the Computer Misuse Act was interviewed by the Metropolitan Police and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) before being released on bail. The teenager was among four people to be detained in connection with the probe.

The alleged breach of the boy’s privacy have also opened legal proceedings against Google and Twitter at the Belfast High Court. Details about the privacy case became known over the weekend after a judge lifted reporting restrictions.

Since then, his lawyers have issued writs claiming negligence, misuse of private information, defamation, breach of confidence and data protection. They have taken legal steps to secure the removal of material published about the boy and where he lived as part of their action.

After the publicity around his arrest, his family has had to move home heard the court. It was also claimed that he could be recognized from photographs and newspaper articles that appeared at the time.

The teenager’s lawyer also said that the content contributed to his client being “stigmatised” within his community. He said the teenager’s name also featured in online searches and tweets.

Lawyers acting for the Daily Mail rejected claims that they had revealed the identity of the boy. They argued that the newspaper had taken steps to alter the boy’s appearance and even change the colour of his hair in the photo used.

The lawyers claimed that the boy’s name and address had not been published, and added: “It’s our client’s view that they did not identify the plaintiff.”

On Friday reporting restrictions were partially lifted by a judge at the High Court in Belfast, after steps were taken by Google and Twitter to remove the information from its networks. However, an order prohibiting the publication of any material that could lead to the boy being identified remains in place.

The case is scheduled to be heard again next month.

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