ICE blogs

August 12, 2008

Media fight looms on privacy laws

Filed under: ethical space editors blog, Headlines, media policy, journalism, human rights — news_editor @ 2:11 am

The Australian newspaper and other media organisations in the country state that they ‘are readying for a showdown’ if the Australian Law Reform Commission recommends tough new privacy laws today:

The commission’s report could have significant ramifications for news reporting, especially on the lives of well-known people. Justin Quill, a media and litigation lawyer and director of law firm Kelly Hazell, said a privacy law would most affect magazines that specialised in reporting celebrity news, followed by shows such as A Current Affair and Today Tonight and then other news services. Gilbert + Tobin partner Peter Leonard expected the immediate effect of a privacy law would be ‘more cautious reporting around the personal life of celebrities’. For example, he said much of the reporting of former AFL footballer Wayne Carey might be disallowed if a privacy law existed. In its newsletter last week, Gilbert + Tobin said the ALRC’s report was expected to recommend ‘the most significant changes to the Privacy Act in the 20 years of its existence’.

The Right to Know Coalition, which represents Australia’s top media groups, including News Limited, publisher of The Australian, on freedom of speech issues - is against a privacy law. The coalition argued a statutory right to privacy would restrain the media’s ability to keep the public informed. Fairfax Media general counsel Gail Hambly said the evidence in Europe, where a privacy law existed, was that it was only used by high-profile people.

(The Australian)

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