Data protection required

THE NUJ has advised freelance members that failure to register under the Data Protection Act could result in a criminal prosecution.

A photographer was fined almost £1000 by City of London Magistrates Court in July, after failing to reply to two letters from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). Following this, the Information Commissioner wrote to the NUJ urging that it advise its members of their obligations under the Act and the requirement to have an entry on the register. Failure to do so is a criminal offence and can result in a fine of up to £5000. Notification, as it is termed, costs £35 per year. You can register online with the ICO via the link below - and you can see the addresses of people and organisations who have registered via dpa-search.notlong.com - which may give you pause for thought.

The NUJ's Freelance Industrial Council is discussing the privacy and safety implications and possible ways of ameliorating them. Watch this space for more.

Although freelance journalists are required to register as data controllers, Section 32 of the Data Protection Act provides an exemption in regard to demands to disclose "journalistic material".

This means that members of the public cannot force a journalist to release any personal data held about them, or images.

The Commissioner's office can be contacted on 01625 545740, or via the ICO website - freelances who decide to register should ensure they have a register entry to cover trading and sharing in personal information.

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