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University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series

Faculty of Law, UNSW
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Clarke, Roger --- "Privacy and the Media - A Normative Analysis" [2012] UNSWLRS 33

Last Updated: 12 August 2012

Privacy and the Media - A Normative Analysis

Roger Clarke, University of New South Wales

This paper is available for download at


This article may be referenced as [2012] UNSWLRS 33.


The media plays a vital role in informing the public, and hence underpinning democracy. It is accordingly very lightly regulated, and data protection laws apply to media organisations in only a qualified manner, or not at all. Segments of the UK media have seriously misbehaved in recent years, and similar problems arise in many other countries.

The media is undergoing rapid change, induced by Internet technology and the undermining of both subscription and advertising revenues. The emergence of networked media has heightened competition, has led to rapid convergence of print, broadcast and other media forms, and has forced staff reductions. In addition, enthusiastic amateurs have become 'the unofficial media'. Regulatory reform is urgently needed, but must take into account the many ways in which the media sector is in flux.

This paper presents a normative proposal for the regulation of the media's impacts on privacy. It reflects the realities of 21st century media, recurrent issues, privacy needs, and the varied terms of the many existing selfregulatory Codes of Conduct. The empirical base is entirely from within one country, Australia. However, the privacy needs are recognised in international instruments, and the themes are common. The resulting
proposal therefore has relevance in most countries.

The proposal developed in this paper provides a basis for the preparation of laws or Codes for print, broadcast, networked and/or converged media. Alternatively, it may be used as a reference-point against which existing and proposed laws and Codes can be assessed.

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