Category Archives: News

ILPC launches new report: ‘Protecting Sources and Whistleblowers in the Digital Age’

front-page-snippet-download-the-reportThe emergence of an everyday digital culture and the increasing use of legal instruments by state actors to collect and access communications data has led to growing concern about the protection of journalistic sources and whistleblowers.

With the support of Guardian News and Media, the Information Law and Policy Centre has published a new report to consider these developments entitled ‘Protecting Sources and Whistleblowers in the Digital Age’. The report is open access and available for download.

Authored by Dr Judith Townend and Dr Richard Danbury, the report analyses how technological advances expose journalists and their sources to interference by state actors, corporate entities or individuals.

The report also looks at how journalists can reduce threats to whistleblowing; examines the rights and responsibilities of journalists, whistleblowers and lawmakers; and makes a number of positive recommendations for policymakers, journalists, NGOs and researchers.

The report’s findings are based on discussions with 25 investigative journalists, representatives from relevant NGOs and media organisations, media lawyers and specialist researchers in September 2016.

Protecting Sources and Whistleblowers in the Digital Age was officially launched on 22 February 2017 at the House of Lords.

Alongside the report, the Information Policy Law and Policy Centre has also published a range of open access resources on journalistic sources and whistleblowing which are available here.

Information Law and Policy Centre appoints new director

n__ni_loideain new director of the Information Law and Policy CentreDr Nora Ni Loideain, a scholar in governance, human rights and technology, has been appointed director of the Information Law and Policy Centre (ILPC) at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), one of nine research institutes of the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Currently a postdoctoral research associate for the technology and democracy project at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), Dr Ni Loideain takes up her new role at IALS in May.

The Information Law and Policy Centre opened in 2015. Its mission is to extend the institute’s research into how law both restricts and enables the sharing and dissemination of different types of information and provide a physical and virtual meeting place for those active in the area.

Issues the Centre will look at include data access and ownership rights, privacy and confidentiality, the malicious use and misuse of data, freedom of information and legal publishing (both commercial and free-to-internet). It is also interested in trends in scholarly communication relating to legal studies.

Dr Ni Loideain was awarded her PhD in law from the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral research examined the impact of the ‘right to privacy’ on the EU Data Retention Directive which mandated the mass retention of EU citizens’ communications metadata for national security and law enforcement purposes.

Previously she clerked for the Irish Supreme Court and was a legal and policy officer for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions of Ireland. Her research interests and publications focus on governance, human rights and technology, particularly in the fields of digital privacy, data protection and state surveillance.

She is also an affiliated lecturer at the Cambridge Faculty of Law, a visiting lecturer for the LL.M. Privacy and Information Law module at King’s College London and a senior research fellow at the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Humanities.

‘The institute welcomes Dr Ni Loideain to contribute to this dynamic area of interdisciplinary research on information law and policy which affects everyone’s daily life,’ says Jules Winterton, director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.

‘Under Dr Ni Loideain’s leadership the Centre will provide a base for important and timely academic activity in this area, pursuing its own research and also aligning with the institute’s mission to promote and facilitate the research of others in the UK and beyond.’

Commenting on her new role, Dr Ni Loideain confirms she is ‘delighted to have been appointed as the director of the Information Law and Policy Centre. I look forward to continuing to contribute to the excellent work of the Centre and to carry on the successes of the previous director, Dr Judith Townend.’

News: CMS committee approves Elizabeth Denham’s appointment as Information Commissioner

s300_denham_headOn Wednesday 27 April the government’s preferred candidate for the new Information Commissioner appeared in front of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, whose remit now extends to this post. Video here.

The CMS committee has now published its report, announcing:

On the basis of the evidence presented, we approve Elizabeth Denham’s appointment as Information Commissioner. We wish Elizabeth Denham well in her new post and look forward to working with her in the future.

Elizabeth Denham will replace outgoing Information Commissioner Christopher Graham who has served since 2009 (a five year term extended by two years – he cannot be re-appointed under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012). A further statement from the committee is available here, which includes a statement from committee chair Jesse Norman MP:

“The Committee noted with interest Ms Denham’s views on a range of topics, including the possible retention of emails as official records, the extension of FOI and directors’ liability for data breaches, in particular.

We also noted Ms Denham’s track record on data protection with Government in British Columbia, and her proactive approach to protection of privacy with major international technology companies.”

The committee reports:

[12] Elizabeth Denham has held senior leadership positions in the field of information rights in Canada over the last 12 years. Since 2010 she has been the Commissioner at the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, Canada, where she is responsible for enforcing the Canadian Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA), and the Lobbyists Registration Act (LRA). Previously (2007–10) she was the Assistant Privacy Commissioner of Canada in Ottawa; having been a Director at the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta (2003–7) …

[13] Ms Denham gave oral evidence to us on 27 April. We questioned her on the following topics:

  • A comparison of the British and Canadian FoI and data protection regimes
  • Her understanding of the EU Framework underpinning UK data protection law
  • Whether and how the powers of the UK ICO might be extended in relation to FoI
  • The application of FoI to all forms of communication, including social media, whenever any government information was under consideration
  • Whether FoI should apply to non-Government entities delivering public services
  • The application of the commercial confidentiality exemption from FoI to government contracts
  • Issues of victims’ access to information highlighted by the Hillsborough inquiry
  • The responsibility that company directors should have for cyber security
  • Tackling nuisance calls
  • The implications of amending the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to extend data retention
  • Press Regulation: Lessons to be learned from Operation Motorman and the Leveson inquiry
  • The ICO’s relations with Parliament
  • The management challenge of moving from a relatively small state system to a national regulator
  • Funding of the ICO
  • The challenge of relocating to the UK