PUL Adopts Self-Regulatory Working Manual

-To Guide Journalists On Personal Data Policy & Protection

MONROVIA-Scores of Liberian journalists on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 adopted a self-regulatory working manual intended to guide them on the usage of personal data and protection while carrying out their journalistic work.

The working manual according to the Vice President of the Publishers Association of Liberia (PAL) Sam O. Dean is not meant to arm-twist journalists, but to ensure that they are more professional in doing their work.

The one-day event held in Sanniquellie, Nimba County was jointly organized by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and the Publishers Association of Liberia (PAL) with support from the Liberia Media Initiative and co-financed by the European Union.

Speaking at the opening of the session was the Senior Program Officer of the Internews Europe, Thibault Chapoy who stressed the importance of such regulation for the benefit of the sector and the country at large.

He said even though, it is a technical and complex issue, but encourages journalists to be a champion of such key milestone.

The session he pointed out was very timely especially at a time, Liberia joined other countries across the world in observance of International Right To Know Day.

Also speaking at the program was the Project Director of the Liberia Media Initiative (LMI) Samuka Konneh who stated that the vulnerability of personal data is alarming and needs to be looked at carefully.

Liberia he said, does not have a specific law on the protection of one’s personal data while at the same time, the media also do not have a set guidelines on how to report and protect an individual personal data as such, the gathering was very significant.

As for the Press Union of Liberia, the Vice President, Daniel Nyakonah urged his members to remain professional in the discharge of their duties.

According to him, the working manual will form a part of the Press Union code of ethics as such, called on all members to do the needful.

“There are scattered laws and there is no synchronization on personal data as several institutions in Liberia to include: the National Identification Registry, the Bureau of Vital and Health Statistics, the Passport Bureau at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The National Security Agency, GSM providers as well as Schools and Clinics are requesting for such, and it is an issue of national concern”, Musa Kenneth, Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia buttressed his boss, VP Nyakonah.

Currently, Liberia is not among about 17 countries that have a law to protect personal data.

However, the penal law speaks to privacy of an individual especially in terms of bridge of one’s privacy, but such is still limited, said Cllr. Saryeaneh Dickson, one of the framers of the media self-regulation and draft standalone legislation on personal data privacy document.

Providing some insights about the document, Cllr. Dickson said the standalone legislation is among other things looking at the management, safety and security concern of people’s personal data including its protection.

He informs the body that the document which is still in its formative stage, but when subsequently passed into law will provide protection against bridges, consent of an individual before publication of personal data, the guarantee rights of data owners and data collection in sharing rights , just to name a few.

The one day event was part of activities in commemoration of the 58th anniversary of the Press Union of Liberia.

Meanwhile, about six journalists objected to the adoption of the working manual on grounds that were not sufficient time enough to have a proper review of the entire document.

However, the organizers took note of the concerns raised by those journalists and promised to share the soft copies even though, hard copies were distributed to them with the hope of taking into consideration, some of their potential inputs and recommendations.

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