Privacy Standards Regarding its Activities as a Media Organisation
The Private Sector amendments to the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 exempt from its ambit acts and practices by media organisations in the course of journalism when the organisation is publicly committed to observing a set of privacy standards.
Accordingly, Thomson Reuters (Professional) Australia Limited (TR) has developed such a set of standards. These standards apply to all activities of TR involved in the collection, preparation and dissemination of the following material for the purpose of making it available to the public: news, current affairs and information; and material consisting of commentary or opinion on, or analysis of, news, current affairs or information.
These standards apply to all such activities undertaken by TR including those activities undertaken under, or in connection with, TR's Lawbook Co., ATP, CPD, FindLaw Australia and Westlaw Australia brands and imprints.
Complaints arising from such activities can be made by contacting TR’s Privacy Officer at TLRAP.email@example.com.
The Privacy Act 1988 recognises the need to balance respect for privacy with the public interest in allowing a free flow of information through the media. One way the Privacy Act aims to address this balance is by providing an exemption for acts done, or practices engaged in, by a media organisation in the course of journalism. This exemption will apply if the media organisation is publicly committed to observing standards which deal with privacy in the context of the activities of a media organisation, and those standards have been published in writing either by the organisation or a body representing a class of media organisations.
Application of Privacy Standards
These Standards apply to "personal information". This term is defined by the Privacy Act as information or an opinion (including information or an opinion forming part of a database), whether true or not, and whether recorded in a material form or not, about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion.
These Standards recognise the public interest in allowing a free flow of information through the media. For the purposes of these Standards, "public interest" means anything involving a matter capable of affecting people at large so they might be legitimately interested in, or concerned about, what is going on, or what may happen to them, or to others.
TR’s Privacy Standards
TR publicly commits to observe the following standards dealing with privacy in the context of its activities done in the course of journalism as a media organisation:
1. Collection of personal information
When gathering news, current affairs or information, authors should only use personal information in the public interest.
In doing so, authors should not unduly intrude on the privacy of individuals and should show respect for the dignity and sensitivity of people encountered in the course of gathering news, current affairs or information.
News, current affairs or information obtained by unfair or dishonest means should not be published unless there is an overriding public interest. Generally, authors should identify themselves as such.
Public figures necessarily sacrifice their right to privacy, where public scrutiny is in the public interest. However, public figures do not forfeit their right to privacy altogether. Intrusion into their right to privacy must be related to their public duties or activities.
2. Use and disclosure of personal information
Personal information gathered by authors should only be used for the purpose for which it was intended.
A person who supplies personal information should have a reasonable expectation that it will be used for the purpose for which it was collected.
Some personal information, such as addresses or other identifying details, may enable others to intrude on the privacy and safety of individuals who are the subject of, or referred to in, news coverage or a publication; or the privacy of those individuals’ families. To the extent lawful and practicable, authors should only disclose sufficient personal information to identify the persons being reported in the news, or referred to in a publication, so that these risks can be reasonably avoided.
3. Quality of personal information
TR should take reasonable steps to ensure that the personal information it collects is accurate, complete and up-to-date.
4. Security of personal information
TR should take reasonable steps to ensure that the personal information it holds is protected from misuse, loss or unauthorised access.
5. Anonymity of sources
All persons who provide information to media organisations are entitled to seek anonymity. The identity of confidential sources should not be revealed, and where it is lawful and practicable, TR should ensure that any personal information which it holds derived from such sources does not identify the source.
6. Correction, fairness and balance
Where individuals are singled out for criticism, the publication should ensure fairness and balance in the original published material. Failing that, and provided that TR in its absolute discretion decides that it is commercially viable to do so, a reasonable opportunity for a balancing response will be provided for those publications which are published periodically.
TR will take steps to correct any of its records containing personal information which has been published and which is found to be harmfully inaccurate; so as to avoid the harmful inaccuracy being published again.
7. Sensitive personal information
TR’s publications should not place any gratuitous emphasis on the race, ethnic origin, political opinions, religion, philosophical beliefs or sexual orientation of an individual. Nevertheless, where it is relevant and in the public interest to report and express opinions in these areas, TR’s publications may do so.
Members of the public caught up in newsworthy events should not be exploited. A victim or bereaved person has the right to refuse or terminate an interview or photographic session at any time.
Unless otherwise restricted by law or court order, open court hearings are matters of public record and can be reported by the media. Such reports need to be fair and balanced. They should not identify relatives or friends of people accused or convicted of crime unless the reference to them is necessary for the full, fair and accurate reporting of the crime or subsequent legal proceedings; or analysis of the legal principles or concepts involved in the matter.
8. Complaints or concerns
If TR becomes aware of any ongoing concerns or problems you may have with its compliance with these Standards, TR will work to address these concerns. If you have any queries relating to these Standards, or you have a problem or complaint, please contact TR at TLRAP.firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. Changes to these Standards
TR may amend these Standards from time to time by posting an updated version on this website.
10. Additional information
For further information about privacy issues and the protection of privacy, visit the Australian Federal Privacy Commissioner’s website at www.privacy.gov.au.