Data Protection Guidance for the Media

September 3, 2014

On 4 September, the Information Commissioner’s Office published new guidance for the media. The main publication, Data Protection: a guide for the media, is described the Information Commissioner in his blog as ‘a thoroughly practical tool, designed to help those who work in the news media, at all levels, to understand their obligations under the Data Protection Act. The ICO has also published a ‘quick guide‘ (a two-page pdf) on the basis that much of the full guide (a 53-page pdf) is not of direct relevance to working journalists but affects their employers.

The guide was produced after a period of consultation, both with the media industry and through a formal public consultation. The ICO has held workshops with journalists and media executives, and also with ‘civil society organisations and campaigners’.

The ICO has also published its response to the consultation, as well as advice to the public, should they feel the media have not handled their information correctly.

In his blog introducing the guidance, Christopher Graham states:

Whether addressing staff reporters or freelances, desk editors or editors-in-chief, this guidance sets out what the law is – not what some might like it to be (either more or less restrictive of the freedom of the press).

The full guide is specifically stated to arise from one of the recommendations arising from the Leveson Inquiry. It states that it has no ‘formal status or legal force’ (although this assertion is questionable in light of its source: Ed) and is not intended to replace industry codes of practice.