Society of Editors criticises 'far too long' ICO Journalism Code - Journalism News from HoldtheFrontPage

Society of Editors criticises ‘far too long’ ICO Journalism Code – Journalism News from HoldtheFrontPage

Proposed guidance aimed at helping journalists to understand issues around data protection is “far too long” to be useful, editors have warned.

The Society of Editors has called on the Information Commissioner’s Office to amend its draft Journalism Code in order for it to be of more practical use to newsrooms.

The draft code aims to help those processing personal data for the purposes of journalism to understand their legal obligations and how to “comply effectively”.

The code will be aimed at those working for newspapers and magazines, television and radio broadcasters, and ‘citizen journalists’.

Responding to a consultation on the code, the SoE said: “While the Society welcomes the fact that the revised Code has been reduced in length and that the language contained within it has been tailored to appeal to a broader audience, the code is still far too long to be of practical use to journalists that are on-the-go.

“The revised code also does not give sufficient weight to the exemption that journalists can rely on and the public interest in freedom of expression itself.”

The Society also pointed out that a “great deal of space” is given within the code to detailing privacy rights without duly acknowledging the fact that journalists will already be aware of such rights as they are contained within industry codes of practice.

It went on to cite the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s Editors’ Code of Practice as an example of practical guidance for journalists.

The SoE said: “The Editors’ Code sets the framework for the highest professional standards that journalists undertake to maintain and balances the rights of the individual with the public’s right to know.

“Journalists endeavour to adhere to these high standards on a daily basis and they recognise their responsibilities under it.

“Journalists understand the Editors’ Code because of its simplicity and clarity. It is made clear what they can and can’t do.

“It is our belief that it would be helpful if the ICO’s Journalism Code was written in the same spirit.”

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