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18 May 2017

NMA Calls for GDPR Journalistic Exemptions

The News Media Association has called for robust implementation of the freedom of expression, freedom of information and journalistic exemptions to the General Data Protection Regulation.

Responding to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport call for views, the NMA points out that news media could scarcely function without such exemptions and protections for their journalism.

These must now go beyond the protections of the Data Protection Act 1998,  the NMA added. "They have to address the stringent requirements of the new regime, to enable freedom of expression, press freedom, open justice and access to information rights," the NMA said. 

"Otherwise, a mere assertion of inaccuracy might paralyse the media. Day-to-day reporting and investigative journalism alike would be rendered impossible. Cross-border online news services halted.

"Individuals and regulators could delve at will into investigations and demand vast quantities of unpublished material. No source would be safe. Archives would be censored as individuals tried to suppress past embarrassments.

"Legal actions would abound, as data protection replaced libel as the preferred instrument of press control. Representative legal actions could be brought by organisations to get compensation, without even a mandate from the data subjects concerned, but with chilling effect upon investigation and reporting."

However, due to pan-European lobbying by News Media Europe and others, the GDPR does mandate far-reaching exceptions to much of the new data protection regime. It provides specific protections for journalism and for news archives, against the right to be forgotten.

“The next stage of UK translation into the law and everyday operation will be crucial," the NMA added. 

The NMA is holding a free seminar on preparing for GDPR, editorial and advertising, on 5 September 10am to 1pm at the NMA offices in London. It will focus on editorial and advertising impact of  the new general data protection regulation and proposed ePrivacy laws. 

Chaired by NMA legal, policy and regulatory affairs director Santha Rasaiah, the speakers will be leading experts who act for news media companies and advise regulators.   

Speakers will include Anya Proops QC, 11 KBW (overview); Nicola Cain, legal director, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (editorial); Robert Streeter, data protection and privacy officer, News UK (advertising panel chair); Ruth Broadfield, partner, Bird & Bird (GDPR advertising and related commercial); Rupert Earle, partner and head of media litigation, Bates Wells Braithwaite (ePrivacy). 

Please contact Santha Rasaiah for details and bookings on santha@newsmediauk.org. The seminar will be held at  the NMA, 292 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 1AE.