banner-background

Newspapers are UNDER ATTACK. We need your help to protect a free, vibrant and irreverent press which informs, entertains and holds the powerful to account on YOUR behalf.

Campaigners have been trying to use the Data Protection Bill to introduce a series of anti-press measures which would cripple news media journalism and help the corrupt and powerful to dictate what newspapers write about them.   

If you value the right to free speech and the ability to challenge authority – which local and national newspapers across the country do every day – then CONTACT YOUR LOCAL MP TODAY and to make them aware of the dangers of these punitive and undemocratic curbs.

 You can also show your support by backing the Free the Press campaign on social media #FreeThePress

Twitter

The Threat to Press Freedom

Legislation aimed at making our data protection laws fit for the digital age must not be used to enforce state-backed press regulation and obstruct investigative journalism.

Setting up a costly and unnecessary, taxpayer-funded public inquiry into the whole media industry and introducing another punitive version of Section 40 costs sanctions against newspapers and magazines, would inflict huge damage on a free press.

This goes beyond any acceptable notion of justice. It would force thousands of newspapers and magazines who have lawfully declined to join IMPRESS to pay the costs of data protection actions, even if the claim is unjustified, our reporting is vindicated and we successfully defend such actions in court.

More Information

Close

The Threat to Press Freedom

Legislation aimed at making our data protection laws fit for the digital age must not be used to enforce state-backed press regulation and obstruct investigative journalism.

Setting up a costly and unnecessary, taxpayer-funded public inquiry into the whole media industry and introducing another punitive version of Section 40 costs sanctions against newspapers and magazines, would inflict huge damage on a free press. 

This goes beyond any acceptable notion of justice. It would force thousands of newspapers and magazines who have lawfully declined to join IMPRESS to pay the costs of data protection actions, even if the claim is unjustified, our reporting is vindicated and we successfully defend such actions in court.               

It would have a chilling effect on our ability to investigate wrongdoing and publish information which the public have a right to know, from the very inception of a story right through to the keeping of vital news archives which chronicle local life. 

Yet another statutory inquiry into the news media is also unnecessary, a waste of taxpayers’ money, open to exploitation by those seeking to destabilise media investigations and publications, and could result in more recommendations damaging to freedom of speech. 

It would embroil all media organisations and our journalists – broadcast, print and online - in an inquiry into editorial coverage of any matter past, present or future, inviting complaints from anyone with a grievance against the press or something to hide – at a time when we are facing massive challenges from online platforms to our very ability to fund our journalism. An inquiry like this would take many years to report and cost the state millions which could be better spent on public services. 

The Leveson Report recommended a system of “voluntary, independent self-regulation”. As a result the old Press Complaints Commission was disbanded. A new regulator IPSO was established, led by former appeal court judge Sir Alan Moses, with real powers based in civil law allowing it to extract real penalties including £1 million fines for the most serious breaches. It has also brought about a transformation in the internal complaints handling procedures at all newspaper companies. 

IPSO regulates over 2,600 print and online titles. An independent review by Sir Joseph Pilling found it to be effective, independent and largely Leveson-compliant. The difference is that it is not subject to statutory oversight. 

Newspapers and magazines are already subject to numerous criminal and civil laws including the libel laws, official secrets and anti-terrorism legislation, the law of contempt and other legal restrictions on court reporting, the law of confidence and development of privacy and data protection actions, intellectual property laws, legislation regulating public order, trespass, harassment, anti-discrimination and obscenity. 

Case Studies

A gallery of investigations and stories from national and regional newsbrands which may not have come to light if the punitive anti-press clauses in the Data Protection Bill were brought into force. 

Find out more