“I believe in a carefully calibrated framework of freedoms - including privacy on the one hand and press freedom on the other” - Shami Chakrabarti CBE, Director of Liberty
The NMG event held on Monday, 11 January, at Stationers’ Hall and in conjunction with London Press Club and the Society of Editors focused on a very thought-provoking debate about press freedom in a surveillance state. Roy Greensdale, Media Columnist for the Evening Standard and The Guardian, opened the debate to the panel and discussed how journalists are the people who can expose police wrong doings. On one side we had Shami who held a very passionate view about the proposed Freedom of lnformation changes and said that this would mean "no privacy for us and no scrutiny for them". She stated that we should use targeted surveillance for people who are suspects, not use all-encompassing surveillance that targets the whole population.
Heather, Journalism Professor of City University, was also sceptical of the State and discussed the lengths to which powerful bodies will go to protect themselves and to stop journalists uncovering stories including those of bribery and blackmail! She said that “journalism by definition means challenging the powerful”. This was countered by Martin Bentham, Home Affairs Editor of the Evening Standard, who was confident that most people aren't affected by surveillance and won’t be by the new Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIPA), but there is always a danger to which there needs to be proper vigilance. He also added that he didn’t feel that we are all suffering due to mass surveillance.
The audience of 120 were particularly interested and questioned the panel on their views. The four speakers created a very enjoyable atmosphere and very interesting discussion.