Two international media organisations have attacked amendments to the Date Protection Bill currently going through Parliaments that they claim has been turned into a weapon to use against the media in the UK.
In their letter to The Times, Michael Golden, President of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, and David Callaway president of the World Editors Forum, have called on the government to remove the clauses from the bill.
Here is their letter in full:
We are writing to express deep concern over attempts by some politicians in the UK to use the implementation of data protection laws as a weapon against the media.
We represent 18,000 news media publications in 120 countries. Changes to press regulation in the UK — traditionally a bastion of free speech — would only embolden repressive regimes to restrict media freedoms and silence critical voices.
The anti-press clauses added to the Data Protection Bill are intended to force newspapers and magazines to join a state-recognised regulator against their will. They would undercut vital protections for freedom of expression and freedom of information, making public interest investigative journalism all but impossible.
The vast majority of UK journalists adhere to professional standards upheld by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), which regulates more than 2,600 print and online publications under a system of voluntary press self-regulation advocated by the Leveson Report.
This is over and above British laws covering libel, contempt and other reporting restrictions.
We hope that the UK will ensure it upholds the high standards of press freedom expected from a leading democracy by removing these dangerous clauses from the bill.
President, World Association of
Newspapers and News Publishers
President, World Editors Forum