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02 May 2019

NMA To Respond To ICO Code Consultations

The Information Commissioner’s Office is consulting on statutory codes under the Data Protection Act 2018 relevant to media editorial and commercial activities.

The first of its consultative drafts ‘Age appropriate design: a code of practice for online services’ attracted some robust criticism on publication, particularly in relation to the potential impact of its suggested new  “robust age verification”, content tailoring and privacy proposals.

Proposals include an age appropriate design code, to provide guidance on the design standards that the Commissioner will expect providers of online “Information Society Services,” which process personal data and “are likely to be accessed by children,” to meet.

The News Media Association will be responding to the consultation.

The NMA said the current draft proposals for application of DCMS specified-standards could have profound, if inadvertent, journalistic and commercial consequences, in areas where child protection has never been at issue, raising media freedom concerns - and seemingly at odds with DCMS and Government goals on sustaining high quality journalism and promoting media literary. 

The ICO has also now launched its call for views on a data protection and journalism code of practice, to which the NMA will also be responding. It is in the first stage of consultation on the new statutory code under the Data Protection Act 2018, which when finalised will be laid before Parliament later in the year.

The Commissioner is seeking input from media organisations, trade associations, data subjects and those representing the interests of data subjects. The ICO’s stated  intention is the provision of “practical, pragmatic guidance for journalists on how to comply with data protection legislation, building on its detailed guidance” on the previous Act.

Under the Data Protection Act, courts and tribunals will take the new code into account when considering data protection cases. As the ICO acknowledges, it “is not a  regulator of press standards” and “protecting freedom of expression, and the inherent public interest in a free press, is also crucial.”

It is vital that these fundamental points are reflected in ICO’s approach in drawing up all codes and constructive dialogue with the media is maintained, the NMA said.