Accessing of personal data is part of journalistic work, Press Council

The Press Council informs the state institutions that the accessing of personal data forms part of the current documentation and information verification activity of journalists. This instrument is an intrinsic element of journalistic work and a proof of professionalism and good faith. This action is taken in an effort to get at the truth and, respectively, to avoid publishing false or inaccurate information. The Press Council reacted after examining a request made by the National Center for Personal Data Protection, concerning the work of the Journalistic Investigations Center, IPN reports.

The National Center for Personal Data Protection examined a lawyer’s complaint about the use of her personal data by the Journalistic Investigations Center and ascertained the violation by journalists of the legislation on personal data protection. It asked that the Press Council should also pronounce on the issue.

Invited to the July 2 meeting of the Press Council, Journalistic Investigations Center director Cornelia Cozonac said the documentation process is part of the work of each journalist. The article for which the journalists accessed the personal data of the lawyer wasn’t even published. By such complaints, ‘dangerous precedents’ in the work of journalists are set. The Center’s jurist Sergiu Bozianu said the decision made by the National Center for Personal Data Protection is unfounded, unjustified and illegal and was challenged in court.

The Press Council established that the reporters of the Journalistic Investigations Center didn’t violate the deontological norms or the good journalistic practices.

In the same meeting, the Council examined a complaint filed by Eugeniu Axentiev, director of the road maintenance company “Autosalubritate”, against TV8.md, Realitatea.md, Noi.md, Omg.md and Zdg.md. Axentiev said these media outlets didn’t publish a press release by which the company informed that the person who sent anonymous letters about alleged irregularities at “Autosalubritate” was identified. But earlier, these media outlets published fragments of those letters. Four of the five media outlets responded to the Press Council’s notifications. In the examination process, it was determined that some of them didn’t even publish those anonymous letters, while others presented the reaction of “Autosalubritate” director or tried to obtain his reaction, while several editorial offices  published information about the director’s salary and/or the hirings at this municipal company.

The Press Council decided to inform the complainer that no public or private entity can tell the editorial offices what information to publish. Eugeniu Axentiev was recommended to seek the right of reply, in accordance with the Journalist’s Deontological Code of the Republic of Moldova, from the editorial offices that published articles presenting him in a negative light without asking for his opinion. But the reply should refer strictly to the accusations made in the journalistic materials.

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