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ICO consulting on possible data protection code of practice for the press

February 19th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Legal

ICO consultation doc data protection

Last week the Information Commissioner’s Office launched a “short public consultation” on proposals for a code of practice for the press in the Data Protection Act.

According to the ICO website this follows a recommendation from Lord Justice Leveson for the ICO to “prepare and issue comprehensive good practice guidelines and advice on appropriate principles and standards to be observed by the press in the processing of personal data”.

The consultation was sent out last week, and closes on Friday 15 March. The ICO website states:

This short public consultation on the likely scope and content of the proposed ICO code of practice is an important first step in ensuring our stakeholders have an opportunity to let us know their views and engage in constructive dialogue to develop a common understanding of how data protection legislation applies to the media. This will be followed by a full public consultation on the code itself.

In the consultation document the ICO adds:

The code will not contain any new legal duties – the purpose of such codes is to promote good practice and observance of the requirements of the Data Protection Act by data controllers. Depending upon decisions by the government about possible reform of the law, this guidance may require further review. However, we accept that it is important to produce guidance now, as recommended by Lord Justice Leveson.

Hatip: International Forum for Responsible Media blog.

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The Twitter reaction to France’s ban on discussing predicted presidential results

April 23rd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Politics, Social media and blogging

By Guillaume Paumier on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

“The results were like the elephant in the room” – that’s what one journalist told Journalism.co.uk after users were said to have taken to Twitter to try and get around a ban on the discussion of predicted results in the French presidential election.

The law, which dates from 1977, bans the reporting of results, projections and exit polls on the day before and day of the election until the closure of the last polling stations.

The ban will also apply to the run-off between Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande on Sunday 6 May and is expected to remain in place, after Jean-Francois Pillon, the head of France’s polling commission, reportedly said he would call on state prosecutors to bring charges against media organisations and individuals who had allegedly defied the ban.

The last polling stations closed at 8pm on Sunday, but before this deadline the hashtag #radiolondres, a reference to resistance broadcasts made in the Second World War, was being used to discuss the projected results, with the candidates being given code-names to try and circumvent the ban.

Nicola Hebden, a freelance journalist covering the election, told Journalism.co.uk the events highlighted the issue of attempting to ban information spreading on Twitter:

While we were broadcasting, the results were like the elephant in the room – we all knew them – the news team, the viewers – but we weren’t allowed to talk about them on air.

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Friday deadline for core participant status for next Leveson inquiry module

March 26th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal

The judge leading the public inquiry into press ethics has called for applications for core participant status for module three of the Leveson inquiry, which will look at the relationship between the press and politicians.

Lord Justice Leveson is currently hearing module two of the inquiry, the relationship between the press and police, having heard evidence for module one, the relationship between the press and the public.

According to an announcement on the inquiry website applications for core participant status – which allows participants to be legally represented at the inquiry and have questions asked on their behalf – must be made by the end of Friday (30 March).

These applications and other issues will be considered at a directions hearing for module three to be held at 2pm on Tuesday, 2 April.

Module four will look at “recommendations for a more effective policy and regulation that supports the integrity and freedom of the press while encouraging the highest ethical standards”.

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Privacy injunction statistics published by Ministry of Justice as part of new pilot scheme

March 19th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal

On Thursday last week the Ministry of Justice published a new report of “experimental” statistics relating to the processing of privacy injunctions at the High Court or Court of Appeal. This follows a recommendation by the Master of the Rolls committee.

The statistics relate to injunctions dealt with in any civil proceedings in the High Court or Court of Appeal in London where the court considers an application for an injunction prohibiting the publication of private or confidential information, the continuation of such an injunction, or an appeal against the grant or refusal of such an injunction.

The report shows that from August to December last year there were four proceedings in the High Court which “considered an application for a new interim injunction”, three where the court “considered whether to continue or amend an interim injunction which had previously been granted” and two where the proceedings involved a consideration of “whether to issue a final, permanent injunction”.

The statistics do not cover injunctions arising from proceedings dealing with family issues, immigration or asylum issues, to proceedings which raise issues of national security, nor to most proceedings dealing with intellectual property and employment issues.

The four applications for new interim injunctions were all said to have been granted by the court.

At the Court of Appeal one further proceeding was also recorded involving “an appeal against a grant or refusal of an interim or final injunction”.

According to the International Forum for Responsible Media (Inforrm) blog, which has looked at the statistics in more detail here, “none of these cases appear to have involved threatened media publication” as “no media defendants were joined”.

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Media release: New edition of McNae’s to launch at NCTJ seminar

February 22nd, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Legal, Training

The 21st edition of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists will be launched next month, at the NCTJ’s media law seminar.

According to a release from the NCTJ, the new edition of the media law book includes a further look at issues such as:

… new coverage of broadcast regulation; new material on privacy and the media, including injunctions and phone hacking; new guidance on journalists’ use of social media; and further coverage of online journalism issues.

The book is authored by Mark Hanna and Mike Dodd, the release adds, who “will present and discuss these changes with tutors at the seminar”.

Press Complaints Commission chairman Lord Hunt will give the keynote speech at the London-based media law seminar on 30 March. According to the NCTJ, he will be giving “his views on the Leveson inquiry and the future of press regulation”.

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Judgment in Coulson v NGN to be handed down today

December 21st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal

The judgment of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson’s legal action against News Group Newspapers is due to be handed down at 2pm.

Coulson took action against the publisher of the now-closed News of the World over payment of his legal fees.

Earlier today private investigator Glenn Mulcaire won his legal fees case against NGN.

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Revised guidance on live court reporting due Wednesday

December 13th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal, Social media and blogging

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge is due to outline “revised practice guidance” on “electronic text-based communications” tomorrow (Wednesday, 13 December), in a follow-up to interim guidance issued a year ago.

In December 2010 England and Wales’ most senior judge provided guidance which said individuals could be granted permission to use a mobile phone or other small electronic device “in order to make live text-based communications of the proceedings”, as long as they had made a prior application to the court.

At the time the guidance emphasised that permission for live reporting of court proceedings would only be granted based on each individual case.

According to a press notice, since issuing this guidance the Lord Chief Justice has run a consultation which has included contributions from figures such as the Secretary of State for Justice and Attorney General as well as bodies such as the Press Complaints Commission and Society of Editors.

Once the guidance is outlined in court it will be published online, the notice added.

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AP test claims 50% of countries with FOI laws ‘do not follow them’

November 17th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal

Of the 105 countries which have laws governing the freedom of information, more than 50 per cent “do not follow them”, according to a test carried out by the Associated Press.

In a report on the findings of its test AP reveals that it sent out requests for information on “terrorism arrests and convictions … to the European Union and the 105 countries with right-to-know laws or constitutional provisions”, to find out how well they follow the rules.

According to its findings a total of just 14 gave complete responses and abided by the set time limit to do so in, while 38 “eventually answered most questions”.

The figures show 51 per cent of countries (a total of 54) approached for information by AP had not given it at the time of writing while 6 per cent “refused to disclose information, citing national security”.

Right-to-know laws seem to work better in some new democracies than older ones, the AP test showed, because their governments can adopt what has worked elsewhere.

Read the full report here.

AP is also asking its audience to send in ideas for more FOI requests they could make elsewhere.

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Guardian: Court of protection should be open to media, says leading judge

November 7th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Legal, Politics, Press freedom and ethics

The processes of England’s most private court should be opened up to public and media scrutiny, the head of the court of protection Sir Nicholas Wall has said in an interview with the Guardian.

The media has recently been granted increased access to the proceedings of the court, which makes decisions in the cases of people deemed vulnerable or unable to make decisions for themselves, but on the rare occasions that the media is granted access judges still decide on a case-by-cases what they can have access to and report on, and at what stages of a case.

Wall told the Guardian:

It seems to me a matter of public interest. The public is, after all, entitled to know what’s going on. Locking up a mentally disabled person is a very serious thing to do and we don’t want people quietly locked up in private.

He added:

The decision about opening up the court is very fraught and people have very strong views. My entirely personal view is that provided we can protect the confidentiality of litigants and their families, there’s not a reason we can’t hear the cases in the presence of the media.

Read the full report on Guardian.co.uk at this link.

Journalism.co.uk court of protection coverage.

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Steven Morris: How I tweeted the Vincent Tabak trial

The Guardian’s Steven Morris has an insightful post up today on how he went about tweeting from the trial of Vincent Tabak for the murder of Joanna Yeates.

With the attorney general reportedly considering a contempt prosecution against someone who tweeted about Tabak’s interest in pornography, which had been banned while the case was active, Morris’ post is a timely look at the dangers of posting live to the social network in real time. (That said, the only contempt prosecution brought so far in the case has been over stories printed in newspapers).

Making sure coverage made up of necessarily self-contained 140-character tweets is both legal and, in a case like that of Yeates, sensitive to younger followers or family, is no mean feat, Morris’ post highlights.

He doesn’t just look at the dangers though, which inevitably are more scrutinised, but also the opportunities. Opportunities to provide detailed, live coverage alongside a traditional newspaper report.

It turned out that the Twitter format – 140 characters a tweet – was not as problematic as it might seem. Reporters are used to transforming long-winded sentences into pithy paragraphs. The format seemed to work particularly well for courtroom exchanges. Here are some examples taken from the heart of the case: Tabak’s six hours in the witness box.

“Prosecutor asking why Tabak wanted to kiss Joanna Yeates. ‘It’s nice to kiss someone’ – Tabak.”
“Tabak: I didn’t want to hurt her, I didn’t want her to die. I didn’t want to cause her any harm.”
“Prosecution: Were you looking in her eyes? Tabak: I can’t remember.”

But what of the dangers? When you tweet, no second pair of eyes is looking at what you write before you send it. It is all down to you. Members of Tabak’s defence team certainly monitored tweets carefully and, no doubt, would have made great play if something prejudicial to their client had crept out.

See Morris’ full article on Guardian.co.uk at this link.

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