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If Parliament votes on the press, the press is not free

If Parliament votes on the press, the press isn’t free. To split hairs between statutory underpinning and statutory regulation is not an acceptable distinction in a free and democratic country.

However, Lord Leveson is absolutely right to recognise that the current legal framework fails to protect privacy by not including the potential for those who steal or abuse personal data to face a jail sentence. His voice, added to those of campaign groups and the Home Affairs and Justice committees of Parliament sends a clear message to the Government that continued delay and inaction on this issue is unacceptable. Custodial sentences, already on the statute book, should be enacted immediately.

The media must abide by the law, of course, but it must also be fearless in holding power to account. Even a slight diminishing of its undaunted view of power will bring comfort to those who seek to evade and avoid scrutiny. Every citizen would be worse off and we would be held up in lesser regimes around the world as justification for Governments muzzling the press.

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Civil Liberties, Data Protection, Information Commissioner

3 Responses to If Parliament votes on the press, the press is not free

  1. Richard Baron

    I am not sure about getting tougher on breaches of privacy – but then, I do not accept that there should be a right of privacy against the world, as distinct from a right of privacy against the state. My general view is that if you do something embarrassing and it gets published, tough, it was your fault for doing it. My specific concern in this context is that lawyers who seek to hide the unsavoury truth about their clients by threatening injunctions and libel actions might obtain yet another weapon, the threat of an action for obtaining personal data.

    There is much else to criticise in Leveson, including the hair-splitting about which you rightly complain. I offer a few thoughts here:


    • Guest

      An embarrasing action in public should be fairgame, but when someone actually goes out of their way to photograph someone in their own property doing something embarassing, I strongly disagree and would expect heavy fines and/or prison sentences for the perpetrators.

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