Statutory Regulation of Professional Journalism Under European Data Protection: Down But Not Out?
47 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2016 Last revised: 4 Aug 2016
Date Written: August 3, 2016
European data protection aims to protect the privacy and related rights of individuals, purposes which come into tension with the free speech of professional journalism. Moreover, statutory Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) act as the ‘guardians’ of the data protection framework across the European Economic Area. In light of this, this article explores through both a DPA questionnaire and a DPA website review the enforcement efforts of these critical regulators in this sector. The results indicate that, notwithstanding stringent statutory provisions enforceable by DPAs in many Member States, activity has been patchy even in areas which raise limited free speech concern (e.g. action against significant inaccuracy). Nevertheless, many DPAs do engage in this area especially when sensitive or importantly confidential information is involved. The stringency of local law also positively correlates with the extent of enforcement, whilst the level of resourcing surprisingly does not. The article proposes action by both Member States and DPAs to ensure more regulatory coherence under the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation.
Keywords: data protection, privacy, regulation, European harmonization, Directive 95/46, GPDR, freedom of expression, media regulation, press freedom, Directive 95/46
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