Tag Archives: Leveson Inquiry

Do hyperlocal and student websites fall foul of the new press regulator and libel laws?

leveson regulation guidance

The DCMS pubished this image to clarify the definition of “a relevant published” under proposals published in early 2013.

Nick Booth left a Press Recognition Panel consultation under the impression that non profit hyperlocals were going to be exposed by the new regulation system. Then legal experts suggested he’d got it wrong. So which is it? In a special post cross-published from Podnosh, Nick tries to tease out a complex law and ask: ‘when someone sues now, who pays?’.

Last week I spent a couple of hours at a consultation in Birmingham run by the Press Recognition Panel, which is the regulator set up to oversee the creation of (a?) new press regulator(s) following the Leveson Inquiry and the Royal Charter. (I know this has already got a bit “what?”, but stick with me.)

I was there because I’m interested in what it means for hyperlocal websites (which we have helped people set up over a number of years). Especially the implications for those run for the love of their community,  sites like B31voices or WV11 –  not run for the money. Talk About Local has already questioned whether hyperlocals fall within Leveson and I wanted to be clear one way or the other…

So this is how my thinking has evolved…. if you find an asterix next to an assertion I’m not 100% sure this is right. Continue reading

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Dispatches’ Watching the Detectives: why journalists should be worried about the Communications Data Bill

Consider these two unrelated events:

  1. A bill is proposed to record every contact (and possibly search) made by every UK citizen, to be available to law enforcement agencies and stored by communication service providers
  2. An inquiry into press standards and a leaked Home Office report both uncover the ease with which private investigators can access personal records through law enforcement and other agencies

I’m worried about 1. because of 2. And tonight’s Dispatches: Watching the Detectives does a particularly good job of illustrating why. It is “the ease and extent to which the unregulated private investigation industry is willing to acquire personal data for a price” – not just from the police services, but the health services, benefits system, and other bodies, including commercial ones such as communications service providers (for an illustration of the data security of private companies, witness the Information Commissioner’s Office targeting them after a series of data protection breaches).

If you’re a journalist, student journalist or blogger with any interest in protecting your sources, you should be watching the Communications Data Bill closely and understanding how it affects your job.

In the meantime, it’s also worth developing some good habits to protect your stories and your sources against unwanted snooping. More on my Delicious bookmarks under ‘security’.