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news activity for the sole purpose of that activity and primarily seeks to protect the

source of information and to limit the right of access to such information.


“News activity” is defined in subsection (3) to mean any journalistic activity and includes:

(a) the –

(i) gathering of news;

(ii) preparation or compiling of articles or programmes concerning news; or

(iii) observations on news or current affairs,

for the purpose of dissemination to the public; or

(b) the dissemination to the public of –

(i) any article or programme of or concerning news; or

(ii) observations on news or current affairs.


As no further definition is found in respect of the term “news”, its natural meaning is

adopted to mean “information about recent events or happenings, especially as

reported by newspapers, periodicals, radio or television”. The question as to whether the

activity in question amounts to the gathering of news was dealt with in the Eastweek

case. In that case, the Commissioner took the view that since the article at issue was

only a commentary on dress sense and the criticism of an individual’s taste in clothes

was based on the random thoughts of the reporter rather than a report on fashion

trends, the taking of the complainant’s photograph to illustrate such an article did not

amount to news gathering. Though no ruling was made as to the nature of reporting

activities that constitute news gathering, Keith JA, the judge at first instance, concluded

that it was open for the Commissioner not to regard the article in question as news



Since news activity depends very much on information that is being collected, journalists

are concerned that the source of information is free to disclose information without fear

of contravening the requirements under the Ordinance, in particular, DPP3. It is not hard

to imagine that the informant who discloses information, in particular, sensitive or

“insider” information concerning personal data of another individual to the media, will in

most cases be committing an act in contravention of DPP3, unless it can be justified as a

directly related purpose of its collection or the informant has the prescribed consent of

the data subject.


Section 61(2) comes in to exempt the source of information from the provisions of DPP3 if

the following two criteria set out therein are satisfied, viz.:

(a) the use of the data consists of disclosing the data to a data user referred to in

subsection (1); and

(b) such disclosure is made by a person who has reasonable grounds to believe (and

reasonably believes) that the publishing or broadcasting (wherever and by whatever

means) of the data (and whether or not it is published or broadcast) is in the public