Fly-on-the-wall debt film in ‘acute public interest’

An episode of the Channel 5 programme Can’t pay? We’ll take it away was found by Ofcom not to have breached the privacy of a person in a public-facing role who was filmed when a building was entered so goods could be seized from a debtor. Respect for privacy was balanced against the right to freedom of expression and whether the programme contributed to a debate on a matter of general interest. Ofcom agreed that the enforcement of a court writ was not private, and that there was acute public interest in the activities of the people enforcing it. Covert filming did not necessarily breach privacy. Read more from page 20 of the Ofcom broadcast bulletin (December 2017), here.

‘Fear’ blocks coverage of family courts – debate

Parents and even editors are afraid to talk about what goes on in the family courts, a freelance journalist declared at a debate on privacy versus accountability in this sensitive area. “A sense of fear pervades the system,” said Louise Tickle. Democracy suffered, the audience was told. Read more from The Transparency Project here.

Data Protection Bill ‘threatens journalism’

The Data Protection Bill making its way through Parliament in late 2017 could remove an exemption enjoyed by journalists under the current Act, meaning they can “process” sensitive information in breach of the normal rules, as long as it is for a story they believe is in the public interest. Read Roy Greenslade’s Guardian blog post on this here.

Note: this story was uploaded to Media Law Matters before the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation directive, which toughens up data protection law, from May 2018.