The second Editors’ Forum on data privacy and personal data protection, organized by the Publishers’ Association of Liberia (PAL) with support from the Liberian Media Initiative, in collaboration with Internews, co-founded by the European Union took place in Ganta, Nimba County, on October 15, 2021.
The workshop brought together more than 20 rural radio managers and Journalists from four counties including Margibi, Bong, Nimba, and Lofa.
Nimba County Superintendent Mr. Nelson Korquoi served as the keynote speaker and stressed the need to enact laws that will protect the rights of not only minority groups against unethical media reports which expose persons to potential risks of damage, character assassination, and stigmatization.
Mr. Korquoi spoke of the need for Journalists to be professional and respect privacy rights and confidentiality in gathering and disseminating data about persons, which has great potential to cause permanent injury and damage to one’s reputation in society.
He said Journalists and media institutions must ensure that news and information about people’s personal life are factual, accurate, and obtained from trusted sources, devoid of misinformation and disinformation.
Nimba County Gender Coordinator, Mrs. Yaah Belleh Suah emphasized the need for strict adherence to privacy laws and professional ethics of Journalists in gathering and processing data about an individual’s sexual orientation considering, cultural and traditional differences, which could be sometimes life-threatening and injury to minority groups.
She said Journalists must be prudent and exercise caution and due diligence in gathering and reporting about medical conditions and sexual orientation of minority groups, fearing the negative ramifications and danger to individual security and well-being.
She stressed the need for facts check by media houses and as well seek appropriate clarification from relevant authorities before releasing information about people’s personal lifestyles and conditions.
She said individuals’ personal data must be treated with absolute confidentiality and should not be recklessly used, because Journalists and media houses want to point at people or just expose them to harm’s way.
She said media spotlight on individual personal data could have grave unintended negative backlash or consequences to the safety of persons whose sexual orientation is deemed contrary to society’s culture and tradition, particularly those of the LGBT community.
Attorney G. Yelegar Kennedy of the Law Chamber for the protection of Human Dignity, in Nimba County, spoke about the law of privacy and confidentiality, which he stressed must guide the conduct of Journalists and media houses in gathering and disseminating information about people personal lifestyles and medical conditions.
He said Journalists must be professional and ethical in gathering and processing information about people and institutions which could have serious legal implications.
“Everyone needs privacy and the need to keep certain things Private even from your own children,” Attorney Kennedy said, noting that mismanagement and reckless use of information could cause chaos in society and even threaten the personal safety and security of Journalists.
Participants at the workshop later shared their personal experiences, about the perceived invasion of people’s privacy and failure to do facts check and non-adherence to Journalistic professional standards in Liberia.
Earlier PAL president Othello B. Garblah in a welcome statement opined that there have been numeral questions about individual private data protection. “When a public official or an individual data does become personal? And when does it require protection?”
Garblah noted that it is against this backdrop that PAL with support from the Liberian Media Initiative, co-founded by the European Union is organizing these forums across the country among media practitioners to come up with a document that would guide us to formulate a legal framework for this purpose.
The PAL is a conglomerate of more than 50 newspapers and online publications in the country.
The theme of the forum is Increasing Awareness of Personal Data Privacy among editors and senior media managers.
The goal as he explained is to advocate for the Government to pass specific legislation that will address the protection of data ad privacy and advocate for the media industry to pass regulations on personal data privacy.
It is also intended to enhance professionalism in the media through peer review. In collaboration with Internews and CEMESP, PAL seeks to promote the self-regulation of the media.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/publishers-seek-privacy-for-personal-data/