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February 2, 2018
Responding to the Home Office consultation on the 2016 Act (which ran from 30 November 2017 to 18 January 2018), the NMA expressed concern over the UK Government’s proposals for implementation of the CJEU judgment in Joined Cases C 203/15 and C 698/15 Tele2 Sverige AB v Post- och telestyrelsen and Home Office v Tom Watson, which set out the requirements that need to be in place for a data retention regime to be considered compliant with EU law.
The NMA said that 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”.
In the NMA’s view, 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. To read the NMA’s press release in full, click here.