ACMA finds Ten breached privacy rules by identifying man who refused a DNA test

Ten Logo 3D High ResTen Eyewitness News breached the privacy of a man who refused to give a DNA sample to police, the media watchdog has ruled.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found the news show breached conditions in a segment that went to air on April 15 concerning the bashing of an elderly woman, which reported on a police request to men living in the neighbouring area to voluntarily provide DNA samples.

The report included visual images images of one man who had chosen not to provide a DNA sample with the ACMA finding it could have been inferred that he was a suspect in the assault and that the broadcast breached the television codes of practice.

According to the ACMA statement Ten had acknowledged that the report incorrectly represented that the complainant had declined to provide a DNA sample to police and that it also breached its privacy obligations.

Comment is being sought from Ten.

The ACMA noted that while the complainant was not named, he was identifiable from the broadcast.

The watchdog found that “in the context of a report on the investigation into a violent bashing, information that he had not given a DNA sample was sensitive personal information.

“It was not available in the public domain and consent wasn’t given for it to be broadcast. The visual identification of the complainant could have been avoided without the segment losing any coherence or meaning. There was no public interest reason which justified the broadcast of personal information that was both sensitive and inaccurate.”

Ten will publish an apology and correction on its website TenPlay and included a link to the report from the ACMA’s website. It will also use the ACMA’s findings in training sessions and redistribute the ACMA’s Privacy guidelines for broadcasters to news staff.

Nic Christensen 



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