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ABC breaches privacy requirements

Woman watching TV on couch

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) breached the privacy requirements in the ABC Code of Practice by broadcasting an identifiable person’s profile in a news report about dating app scams.

The Newshour segment, which was broadcast in May 2021, included footage of a screen scrolling through a dating app showing the profile of a person, including an image of a face, age and first name.

The ACMA investigation found that although the dating app profile was shown fleetingly, the image of the face was repeated twice in the news report and the person was identifiable.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said having personal information broadcast on television can be distressing for the individual in question.

“Media intrusion into a person’s private life without consent must be justified to be in the public interest,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“There is a clear public interest in reporting on online scamming, however there are limits to the type of personal information that should be disclosed in a news report. In this case, there was no justifiable reason to identify the person and the ABC did not undertake adequate measures to ensure their privacy.”

The ACMA’s enforcement powers when it finds the ABC has breached its Code are limited to recommending the ABC take particular actions. In this case, the ACMA did not consider this necessary as the ABC had already removed the footage from its archive and advised that the ACMA finding will be made available to relevant ABC News staff. 

For more information, please contact ACMA Media on 0438 375 776 or media@acma.gov.au.

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