NMA Concerned Over RIPA Proposals

Proposed changes to the to the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 could reduce the effectiveness of journalistic safeguards and give greater powers to authorities to uncover journalists’ sources, the News Media Association has warned.  

Responding to a Home Office consultation, the NMA expressed concern over the UK Government’s proposals for implementation of a European Court’s judgment which set out the requirements that need to be in place for a data retention regime to be considered compliant with EU law.

The proposals expand “the powers of the police, local authorities, numerous other public authorities’ and overseas authorities’ use of the powers to acquire communications data, including internet records, relating to journalists and their sources,” the NMA warned.

The powers have been misused by public bodies to uncover journalistic sources, such as in the case of Cleveland Police, who were ruled to have acted unlawfully by the  Investigatory Powers tribunal in February last year.

The NMA said: “This definition puts at risk journalists, media companies- whether broadcast corporation, newspaper and magazine publishers, independent editorial production companies and consultancies. It would allow repetition of the misuse of the powers against journalists and whistle-blowers, directly or collaterally, in the past.

“It would allow overseas authorities to access communications data and internet records – a useful tool against all involved in international journalistic investigations such as the Paradise Papers.”

The NMA called for changes to the legislation and the communications codes to strengthen protections for journalistic sources.

The response to the Home Office consultation was a joint submission by the News Media Association, Media Lawyer’s Association, Society of Editors and NUJ.