ICO blog: Latest update on response to Leveson recommendations

With the first anniversary of the Lord Justice Leveson’s report into the culture, practices and ethics of the press fast approaching, it’s an apt time to update you on the ICO’s ongoing work in response to his recommendations.

The most high-profile recommendation concerning the ICO was that we should better educate the press on the relevant parts of data protection law, in particular by providing comprehensive good practice guidelines.

In March of this year, we ran a consultation around our proposal to issue a code of practice under section 51 of the Data Protection Act in relation to the law as it currently stands. The short public consultation also covered the likely scope and content of the guidance. Leveson did not stipulate a code but we proposed it as a possible vehicle for the guidance.

We’ve published a summary of the responses today. You’ll see the responses were supportive of the ICO producing the guidance and there is willingness in the industry to engage with us. There was a clear concern identified that any ICO ‘code of practice’ could cause confusion given the existing editors’ code. We’ve taken on board those comments, and are instead looking to produce a guidance document.

We are now pressing on with our work to draft that guidance. It will cover the law as it stands, rather than on any potential future amendments (see below). That work includes working closely with all the relevant parties: the press themselves, groups representing victims of past press intrusion and the public. We intend to publish the draft guidance, for further consultation, before the end of the year.

There remains the potential for changes to the Data Protection Act on the back of recommendations in the Leveson report. Any such changes would be the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice, and we await a consultation from them. We are also monitoring the developments on press regulation, the main focus of the report.

In response to another Leveson recommendation, we’ve also published a new version of our Data Protection Regulatory Action Policy, covering cases involving the press.

Steve WoodSteve Wood‘s department develops the outputs that explain the ICO’s policy position on the proper application of information rights law and good practice, through lines to take, guidance, internal training, advice and specific projects.
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