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ICO’s response to Leveson – new ICO guidance – data protection and journalism

5 September 2014

The ICO Guidance on Data Protection and Journalism has been released along with a blog by the Information Commissioner. The guide itself very clearly states that its purpose is to ‘explain’ how the Data Protection Act applies to journalism. The guide is neither enforceable legally nor holds any formal status.

The guide is a result of the recommendation by the Leveson Inquiry that the ICO take active steps to advise on principles and standards to be observed by the press when processing of personal data. Christopher Graham’s statement that “Press freedom is not, and never has been, an absolute” may imply that the ICO will not be taking a laissez-faire approach to press freedom where rights of individuals are at risk.

This may be indicative of a shift in treatment of data protection claims in relation to the media, and may also serve as a warning to the media that the ICO will now be less tolerant of any breaches of the DPA as they have been forewarned of the consequences.

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