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April 29, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 7:43am

ICO issues call for views on new data protection and journalism code of practice

By Freddy Mayhew

The Information Commissioner’s Office is calling for journalists, media companies and the public to share their views on a new code of practice for the handling of personal data in journalism.

The ICO has said it is required to put together fresh guidelines under the Data Protection Act 2018, which brought new European data laws under the General Data Protection Regulations into force in the UK.

The watchdog previously produced media guidance under the Data Protection Act 1998, and will use this as a framework for the new code, updating it to reflect the requirements of the new legislation, taking developments in case law and the industry into account, it has said.

It will use compliance with the new code to assess how the industry is fulfilling its data protection obligations through periodic reviews, the findings of which will be reported back to the Government.

Alongside a new code of practice, the ICO will also create guidance for the public for when they believe their personal data has been “misused in the course of journalism”.

Steve Wood, deputy commissioner for policy at the ICO said: “It is important to remember that the ICO is not alone when it comes to helping journalists live up to their obligations.

“We are not a regulator of press standards more generally – our focus is on data protection issues arising from the use of personal information in journalism.”

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Woods said the ICO will work collaboratively with press regulators the Independent Press Standards Organisation and Impress, as well as broadcast regulator Ofcom, “to ensure that the code fits well within this wider framework.”.

He added: “Ultimately we want the code to provide journalists and media organisations with a helpful, practical toolkit to assist them in complying with their data protection obligations.”

Journalists, media companies, civil society and campaign groups, academics, bloggers and members of the public are encouraged to submit their views and ideas to the ICO by 27 May 2019.

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