PCC calls for Ireland to ditch privacy plans

The Press Complaints Commission has joined a chorus of international condemnation for privacy laws currently being proposed in Ireland.

Under the proposed law, news organisations that publish private information about public figures could face legal action before publication. Use of letters, diaries, medical records or surveillance footage such as CCTV could all be covered by the law.

The privacy law is being proposed at the same time as the establishment of a press council in Ireland to regulate the country's press.

In an unusual step, press self-regulatory bodies across Europe have issued a joint statement condemning the move.

The issue was discussed at the annual meeting of the Alliance of Independent Press Councils of Europe (AIPCE) in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The joint statement said the bodies "were concerned to hear that efforts to create a self-regulatory press council in Ireland may be thwarted by proposed new privacy legislation".

It added: "[The AIPCE] hoped that the press in Ireland would still be given a chance to demonstrate that a self-regulatory system can promote high journalistic standards and deliver effective redress for complainants, while protecting freedom of expression in the media.

"The existence of imposed regulations to govern the editorial content of newspapers and magazines would be likely to make the practice of self-regulation impossible.

"Self-regulation of the press is the norm throughout Europe, including Eastern Europe where many new press councils have recently been established."

The International Federation of Journalists has also condemned the proposed law, as has the NUJ.

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