Court docs allege illegal watch on Dowler family

The Sunday Mirror hired detectives to keep illegal surveillance on the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, according to papers submitted to court as part of the phone hacking claims against the paper’s owners. News of the claim prompted press reform campaigners to complain that the full facts of the hacking scandal were not coming to light because of a government decision not to go ahead with the second part of the Leveson Inquiry into the conduct of the press. Read more from The Guardian here.

AI in newsrooms poses privacy challenges

Screen Shot 2020-01-22 at 4.33.20 PMNo answers here, but a tweet from the Financial Times includes a facial-recognition image and a line about the need to regulate the use of artificial intelligence. Newsrooms are already (in 2020) making advances in the use of AI in news coverage: for instance, to identify guests arriving at Prince Harry’s wedding. As far as privacy goes, the GDPR, the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act already make it clear what the law is. However, AI takes away some of the human decision-making, and may involve taking images from remote cameras so that it is not obvious to subjects that they have been photographed. Does this mean there needs to be special consideration of how to meet the obligations of the data protection laws – taking into account the exemptions for public-interest journalism, and the “legitimate purpose” under the GDPR of exercising the right to freedom of expression? (The link is to a paid-to-view story; anyone interested to explore further will have to investigate for themselves).

No rebuke for paper that linked Jamelia to killer

IPSO rejected a complaint from pop star Jamelia after she was named in a newspaper report about her estranged step-brother, who was convicted of murder. The Editor’s Code says relatives of criminals should not normally be identified unless relevant. The paper said there was a public interest because the killer was only the second person in the UK to stand trial under a pseudonym. Significantly, he named the star in his application for reporting restrictions, saying the case was receiving heavy media coverage because she was a “close relation”. Read more here.

Why paper accepted name ban in serial rape case – just before Christmas

Worst rapist MEN headline Jan 2020The Manchester Evening News chose not to challenge an unusual decision to extend a reporting restriction on naming rapist¬†Reynhard Sinaga when was convicted of assaulting 48 men. He was believed to have many other victims who may not have known they had been drugged and assaulted. Police applied for restrictions to protect those unknown victims. Unusually, a decision was taken to keep the restrictions in place until sentencing, after Christmas, because “there were concerns about the availability for counselling services over the holiday period,” wrote reporter Beth Abitt. A rare case of a paper deciding suppression was in the public interest, perhaps.¬†Read more.