IPI: International concerns over the UK National Security and Investment Act threat to press freedom

The International Press Institute (IPI) announced having joined the group of media organizations that have flagged the threat that the UK’s National Security and Investment Act may pose to press freedom. A petition signed by 39 representatives of various groups for press freedom and global journalism was published in The Times magazine on January 11, the day before this act was supposed to be debated in the House of Lords of the British Parliament.

In the public call, the signatories point out the ill-defined wording in the legislative text which can be extended, even if unintentionally, to cover public interest advocates and integrity whistleblowers. At the same time, they understand that, through this act, the British government intends to update laws on espionage and to increase national security.

“The provisions targeting spies acting on behalf of foreign states could also cover individuals working for international media outlets and NGOs, many of whom legitimately receive foreign funding within the scope of that law. This could have a chilling effect on the legitimate flow of publicly significant information to the public in the UK and create a pattern that could be used by authoritarian governments around the world as a means of threatening journalists, activists and whistleblowers with long prison sentences”, the text says.

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