The Information Commissioner has rejected his office’s proposal to protect data and a journalistic code of practice that would shackle the media after it faced criticism from a group of British newspaper editors.
ohn Edwards said nothing in the law constitutes a “limitation of the freedom of the press” and claimed that criticizing it while it was still under review was “wrong and dishonest”.
It comes after the editors of the Daily Telegraph, The Times and Mail Newspaper called on the Government to use the proposed Bill of Rights to exempt UK media from the law.f
It would be wrong and dishonest to criticize a draft rule that is still under review, as part of our detailed and thorough consultation process.John Edwards
In a letter to Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan and Attorney General Dominic Raab, they argued that the proposed code, written by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), would expose the press to legal challenges are “expensive and time consuming”.
They added that it will also make the ICO a statutory media regulator.
Mr Edwards said in a blog on the ICO website: “The letter sent to the Government by three national newspaper editors last week shows that this code will in some way ‘chain’ the media. pine. That is far from the case.
“Our rules do not create new legislation but simply explain what is required under existing law – in fact, similar rules already exist around the protection of children’s online data or data sharing.
“Nothing in our code constitutes a limit to the freedom of the press.
“It is wrong and dishonest to criticize a draft rule that is still under review, as part of our detailed and thorough consultation process.
“We spoke with journalists and people in the media, to understand how the data is used and how the law might apply to them.
“The latest draft of the code reflects a lot of what we heard from the media during our consultation.”
Mr. Edwards said the ICO will continue to work with the media “to make sure we create a clear and practical code”.
He added: “Where the press wants to be completely immune from the law, they have to take their case to the Government.
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“But until then, a free press remains an essential function of our democracy, but so is the ability of the governing body to carry out the will of Parliament.”
Under the law, journalists must have a legitimate reason to report personal data, and whether that is legal depends a lot on whether it serves the public interest.
It requires publishers to create policies about how they make decisions in the public interest and keep records of those decisions.
Editors argue that the system cannot work in a newsroom environment.
Along with asking the Government to exempt the media from data protection laws, they are also asking the ICO to review the code to better reflect the reality of the press.
DCMS has been contacted for comment.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/information-commissioner-denies-data-protection-laws-would-shackle-media-42236155.html Information Commissioner denies data protection law will ‘chain’ the media