Deontology Code regarding the handling of personal data in the practice of journalism (Italia)


Pursuant to Article 25 of Law no. 675 dated December 31st, 1996, as modified by Article 12 of the Legislative Decree no. 171 dated May 13th, 1998, according to which the handling of personal data in the practice of the journalism profession must be carried out on the basis of an appropriate Deontology Code bearing measures and precautions as a warrant for the interested party; measures and precautions regarding the nature of the data, in particular data eligible to reveal health conditions and sexual life;

pursuant to Paragraph 4bis of the same Article 25, according to which such code is applicable also in the practice of freelance journalists as well as to anybody who temporarily handles personal data in order to use it for the occasional publication of articles, studies, and other displays of thought;

pursuant to Paragraph 2 of the same Article 25, according to which the Deontology Code is adopted by the Order of Journalists’ National Council in cooperation with the Guarantor, who promotes the adoption and is in charge of the publication in the Official Gazette;

pursuant to Protocol Note no. 89/GUAR dated May 26th, 1997, with which the Guarantor invited the Order’s National Council to adopt the code within the prescribed time of six months from the sending date of the note itself;

pursuant to Protocol Note no. 4640 dated November 24th, 1997, with which the Guarantor complied with the request of a brief postponement of the aforesaid time, presented on November 19th by the president of the Order’s National Council;

pursuant to Protocol Action no. 5252 dated December 18th, 1997, with which the Guarantor signalled to the Order’s National Council some criteria to bear in mind in the balance of freedoms and rights involved in the journalism profession;

pursuant to Protocol Note no. 314 dated January 23rd, 1998, with which the Guarantor has expressed other observations on the first code outline drafted by the Order’s National Council and passed on to the Guarantor by Protocol Note n0. 7182 dated December 30th, 1997;

pursuant to Protocol Note no. 204 dated January 15th, 1998, with which the Guarantor, on the basis of the first experience of enforcement of Law no. 675/1996 and the drafted code outline, has submitted to the Ministry of Grace!? and Justice the opportunity of a revision of Article 25, which was then modified with the aforesaid Legislative Decree no. 171 dated May 13th, 1998;

pursuant to Protocol Note no. 5876 dated June 30th 1998, with which the Guarantor invited the Order’s National Council to introduce a few residual changes to the further outline approved by the Council itself during the sitting of March 26th and 27th, 1998, and passed on to the Guarantor by Protocol Note no. 1074 dated April 8th;

after verifying the suitability of the measures and precautions as a warrant for the interested party envisaged by the final outline of the Deontology Code, passed on to the Guarantor by the Order’s National Council by Protocol Note no. 2210 dated July 15th, 1998;

considering that, in accordance with Article 25, Paragraph 2 of Law no. 675/1996, the code must be published in the Official Gazette, by the Guarantor, and becomes effective fifteen days after its publication;


the enclosed Deontology Code’s transmission to the Decrees and Laws Publication Office of the Ministry of Grace and Justice, for its publication in the Italian Republic’s Official Gazette.

Rome, July 29th, 1998



In accordance with Article 184, Paragraph 2, the references in Law no. 65/1996 or in other abrogated measures must be understood as referring to the new correspondent measures in force, according to the correspondence table.
A.1. Deontology Code regarding the handling of personal data in the practice of journalism

Article 1. General Principles

  1. These rules aim at reconciling the fundamental rights of the individual, the right of citizens to information, and Press Freedom.
  2. As provided by Article 10 of the Constitution, the profession of journalism goes on without authorization or censorship. As essential conditions to exercise the right and duty of reporting, the gathering, registration, preservation, and spreading of news on events and stories relative to persons, organized bodies, institutions, customs, scientific researches, and movements of thought, carried out within the limits of the journalistic activity and for the purpose of such activity, differ clearly – because of their nature – from the storage and handling of personal data by data banks or other subjects. On these principles are based the necessary derogations prescribed by Paragraphs 17 and 37 and Article 9 of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union Directive 95/46/CE dated October 24th, 1995, and by Law no. 675/1996.

Article 2. Data banks for editorial use and guardianship of journalists’ personal archives

  1. Journalists who gather information for one of the operations mentioned in Article 1, Paragraph 2, letter b), of Law no. 675/1996, makes their identity, their profession, and the purpose of the gathering known, unless this involves risks to their safety or otherwise makes the exercise of the informative function impossible; they avoid undue artifices and pressures. Having made such activity known, the journalist is not obliged to provide the other information elements mentioned in Article 10, Paragraph 1, of Law no. 675/1996.
  2. If the personal data is gathered at data banks for editorial use, the editorial enterprises are obliged to make known to the public, through announcements, at least twice a year, the existence of the archives and the place in which it is possible to exercise the rights prescribed by Law no. 675/1996. Likewise, the editorial enterprises point out, among the management data, the responsibility of the handling that one might want to address to exercise the rights prescribed by Law no. 675/1996.
  3. The personal archives of journalists, functional in any way to the practice of the profession and for the exclusive pursuit of the functions relative to it, are safeguarded, as far as the news sources are concerned, in accordance with Article 2 of Law no. 69/1963 and Article 13, Paragraph 5, of Law no. 657/1996.
  4. A journalist may keep the gathered data for all the time necessary for the pursuit of the purposes involved in their profession.

Article 3. Guardianship of domicile

  1. The guardianship of domicile and other places of private residence also applies to places of care, detention, or rehabilitation, respecting the rules of Law and the correct use of invasive techniques.

Article 4. Rectification

  1. A journalist corrects errors and inaccuracies without delay, also in accordance to the duty of rectification, in the cases and ways established by the Law.

Article 5. Right to information and personal data

  1. In gathering personal data which might serve to reveal racial and ethnic origins, religious, philosophical, or other kinds of convictions, political opinions, supported parties, unions, associations, religious, philosophical, political or trade-union organizations, as well as data able to reveal information on physical conditions and sexual orientations, a journalist guarantees the right to the information on facts of public interest, respecting the essential nature of the information, avoiding references to relatives and subjects who are not connected to the facts.
  2. In connection with data regarding circumstances or facts made known directly by the interested party or through their behavior in public, the right to subsequently advance legitimate reasons deserving guardianship is void.

Article 6. Essentiality of the information

  1. The spreading of news of relevant public or social interest does not contradict the respect for an individual’s private life when the information, even if detailed, is indispensable due to the originality of the fact or to the description of the particular ways in which it occurred, likewise as the qualification of the parties involved.
  2. The private lives of well-known individuals in public office must be respected if the news and the data do not have any importance for their role or in their public life.
  3. The journalist’s comments and opinions belong to the freedom of information as well as to the freedom of speech and thought constitutionally guaranteed to everybody.

Article 7. Protection of minors

  1. In order to protect them, a journalist does not publish the names of minors involved in news facts, nor provide details able to lead to their identification.
  2. The protection of minors also applies, considering the quality of the news and its components, to facts that are not specifically crimes.
  3. The minor’s right to privacy must always be considered as primary compared to the right of critique and the right to report; in case a journalist decides nevertheless, for reasons of relevant public interest and within the limits of the Law, to publicise news or images concerning minors, they must take responsibility for assessing whether the publication is really in the objective interest of the minor, according to the principles and limits established by the „Treviso Charter”.

Article 8. Guardianship of individuals’ dignity

  1. With the exception of the essential nature of the information, a journalist does not provide news and does not publish images or pictures of individuals involved in news facts prejudicial to the person’s dignity, nor do they dwell upon details of violence, unless they perceive a social relevance in the news or image.
  2. With the exception of relevant reasons of public interest or proven objectives of justice and police, the journalist does not take or produce images and pictures of subjects in detention without the consent of the party concerned.
  3. Persons may not be presented handcuffed, except in case this is necessary to report abuses.

Article 9. Safequarding the right to non-discrimination

  1. In exercising the right and duty to report, a journalist is bound to respect the right of the individual to non-discrimination on grounds of race, religion, political opinion, gender, physical or mental condition.

Article 10. Safeguarding the dignity of sick individuals

  1. A journalist, in referring to the health of a a given identified or identifiable individual, respects their dignity, their right to privacy and decorum, especially in case of serious or terminal illness, and abstains from publishing analytical data of strictly clinical interest.
  2. The publication is admitted within the pursuit of the essentiality of the information and in any case in respect of the dignity of the individual, if these hold a position of particular social or public relevance.

Article 11. Guardianship of the individual’s sexual life

  1. A journalist abstains from describing sexual habits related to a given identified or identifiable individual.
  2. Publication is admissable within the pursuit of the essentiality of the information and in the respect of the dignity of the person, if these hold a position of particular social or public relevance.

Article 12. Guardianship of the right to report in criminal processes

  1. To the handling of data relative to criminal processes, the limit prescribed by Article 24 of Law no. 675/1996 does not apply.
  2. The handling of data able to reveal measures described in Article 686, Paragraph 1, letters a) and b), 2 and 3, of the criminal procedure code is admissable in the exercise of the right to report, according to the principles described in Article 5.

Article 13. Enforcement scope, disciplinary sanctions

  1. These rules apply to professional journalists, publicists, apprentices, and to anybody else who even occasionally engages in political journalism.
  2. The disciplinary sanctions in Title III of Law no. 69/1963, apply only to subjects registered in the roll of journalists, in the lists or in the book.


Code on the guardianship of personal data

Attachment A.2. Deontology code – Handling of personal data for historical purposes

Attachment A.3. Deontology code – Handling of personal data for statistical purposes in the scope of Sistan

Attachment A.4. Deontology and good conduct code regarding the handling of personal data for statistical and scientific purposes

Attachment A.5. Deontology and good conduct code regarding information systems run by private parties on credits for consumption, reliability and punctuality in payments

Attachment B. Technical disciplinary measure regarding minimal security measures

Attachment C. Non-occasional treatments carried out within the judiciary field or for police purposes

Corresponding table of references previously in force before the code on the handling of personal data.

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