09 December 2012


ACMA, Australia's national broadcasting regulator, has concluded that Channel Nine Adelaide (NWS 9) has
breached the privacy provisions of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2010 (the code) by identifying a family involved in a home birth. It is the first television broadcast to breach the privacy provisions of the code since the new privacy guidelines were introduced in December 2011. 
The finding [PDF]  is a welcome sign that ACMA, an example of industry capture, is taking privacy protection more seriously.

ACMA states that
The news story concerned a deregistered midwife continuing to practise but it broadcast sensitive personal information about a newborn baby. The 16 February 2012 broadcast also contained identifying and intrusive footage of the complainant and his family inside their home and surrounds. 
‘The concept of being protected against someone intruding on your private space is a key tenet of the privacy guidelines,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. 
‘It is partly based on a person’s reasonable expectation that their activities would not be observed or overheard. In this case, footage in and around the complainant’s home was found to be an invasion of privacy,’ he said. 
The ACMA also found that the licensee failed the additional code obligation to exercise special care before using sensitive personal information about a child. 
NWS 9 has agreed to a tailored training program for relevant staff and to making a statement on its website providing a link to the ACMA’s investigation decision.
The NSW 9 site does not, as far as I can see, feature an apology … merely a link to the ACMA PDF.