Reckless disclosure to become a criminal offence

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23 April 2008

The House of Lords has voted in favour of an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill (CJIB) that would make it an offence to intentionally or recklessly disclose personal data, or repeatedly and negligently allow personal data to be disclosed. The amendment covers both the public and private sector. It will not apply if the person can show that the disclosure was necessary for preventing or detecting crime, or was required or authorised by any rule of law or court order, or was justified in the public interest. 

The amendment also inserts an exemption for journalists from clause 76 of CJIB (which provides for prison sentences for convictions for unlawfully obtaining personal data) if they can prove that they reasonably believed that the obtaining, disclosing or procuring of personal data was justified in the public interest.

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