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NMA condemns Cabinet Office moves to strengthen government control over information

LORD Black of Brentwood, chairman of the News Media Association’s legal policy and regulatory affairs committee, has written to the Cabinet Office to express the industry’s concern over recent concerted moves to restrict the public right to know.

In a letter to Ben Gummer, Minister for the Cabinet Office, Lord Black cited the review of the Freedom of the Information Act last year and the Law Commission’s project on protection of official data as examples of moves to strengthen Government control over information.

Press freedom, freedom of information and freedom of expression are core concerns of the NMA and its members,” wrote Lord Black (pictured).  “We have been surprised and deeply concerned by Cabinet Office reviews aimed at strengthening the government’s control over information and restricting the public’s right to know.

First the Independent Commission on review of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, now the Law Commission's project on Protection of Official Data, charging the Law Commission to consider how to strengthen the criminal law’s controls and sanctions for unauthorised obtaining and disclosure of government information.

This is hugely threatening to publishers, journalists and their sources. Its wide-ranging terms of reference encompass everything from the official secrets acts 1911-1989 to data protection, to scores of miscellaneous statutes. The Law Commission also subsumed its review of the offence of misconduct in public office into the project at a late stage.”

The NMA is seeking a meeting with the Law Commission.

The full story is on the News Media Association's website

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