Information Commissioner responds to the Leveson Report

The Information Commissioner has responded to the Leveson Report. The majority of the response was positive and welcoming of Leveson’s recommendations.

Of the 22 recommendations, 17 were relevant to the ICO, 17 were agreed with, welcomed or strongly supported. The Commissioner believed that some required further consideration or accepted in part or some required consideration by Parliament. It considered none of the recommendations to be “harmful”.

That would not have been apparent from the press reports. The Guardian’s headline described Leveson Data Protection Plans:

  • “could have chilling effect on journalism”,

the Telegraph’s headline was:

  • “Leveson could have chilling effect on journalism, Information Commissioner warns”,

and the Mail’s headline was:

  • “How Investigative Journalism ‘could be harmed by Leveson’ says Information Commissioner”.

The reports  concentrated on the concern over the removal of the right of subject access from “journalistic exemption” under Section 32 of the Data Protection Act 1998. The Commission had commented

  • “the area of subject access is particularly problematic in that there are legitimate concerns about the chilling effect Lord Justice Leveson’s proposal might have on investigative journalism”. “This area will need very careful consideration. This again is a matter of balance of interests and is ultimately a matter for Parliament.”

So despite the fact that the Information Commissioner accepted almost all of the recommendations of Lord Leveson, the papers, without exception, concentrated on this one aspect.


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