Investigate this Bill
THE UK government has published a Draft Investigatory Powers Bill. The obvious concern is whether the security services would get new powers to legally access journalistic information, and particularly to compromise the confidentiality of our sources (as against getting the information the other way).
The Bill gives reassurance only on the specific matter of protecting sources: there will be "in statute a requirement for all applications to access the communications data for the purpose of identifying or confirming the identity of a journalist's source to be authorised by a Judicial Commissioner. The draft Bill will also require that statutory Codes of Practice issued in respect of communications data must make provision for additional safeguards that apply to sensitive professions." This is similar to the existing Police and Criminal Evidence Act provisions.
The Freelance immediately thinks: what about other matters of journalistic confidentiality - such as photographs of political actions? What exactly is this "code of practice" for more intrusive measures such as "equipment interference" - installing computer malware? We will be studying the Bill.
Please revisit www.londonfreelance.org/fl/1512ipb.html to check for any appeals to submit evidence - the deadline for which is 21 December. Then we'll have to keep a sharp eye on changes to the actual Bill, and amendments to that in Parliament...