Legal protection for whistleblowers 'ineffective', say lawyers

Whistleblowers need better legal protection because they are far easier to identify in the digital era, warns a report just published by media lawyers.

It is harder and harder for journalists to protect sources as a result of correspondence monitoring and interception, the study by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) at London University said.The warning comes only weeks after publication of a Law Commission review on recommendations on how to update the Official Secrets Act. That report suggested significantly increasing prison sentences for leaking official information and threw cold water on the notion of introducing a public interest defence – a sentiment that was widley attacked by whistleblowers and human rights organisations. 

Concern about IPA

The report, Protecting Sources and Whistleblowers in a Digital Age, highlighted a number of areas of concern introduced by the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA).The IPA declares that communications metadata which could be used to reveal and charge a source belongs to the telecoms provider not the journalist.

Legal protection ineffective

The report went so far as to say that legal protections for whistleblowers had become ineffective and is calling for the IPA to be rendered compliant with the UK’s international human rights obligations so journalists and their anonymous sources are sufficiently protected. Source: The Guardian

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