The threat of jail sentences will deter journalists from buying secret information, the deputy Information Commissioner has claimed.
The Government is currently consulting over possible two-year jail terms for those who illegally buy and sell secret information.
Currently journalists only face the threat of a fine if they buy information such as phone records and private phone numbers.
Deputy information commissioner David Smith said: "The prison sentence is a deterrent, and is intended as such… the threat of prison is seen as a much greater deterrent than facing a fine.
"I am sure people like private investigators and journalists will write [a fine] off as a business expense: you can't write off a prison sentence in the same way."
He added: "We will not see many journalists or private investigators going to prison."
Previous legislation guarding the data protection act has been a maximum fine of £5,000, whereas the punishment will now extend to a maximum of two years imprisonment.