Peruvian court softens stance against publishing secretly recorded calls

The Constitutional Court of Peru ruled that media outlets cannot make public secretly recorded phone calls when their content “affects personal or family privacy, or the private life of the intercepted party or third parties, unless it is of public interest or import,” Perú 21 reports.

The court’s ruling softens a decision last week that completely prohibited newspapers, radios and television stations from publishing recordings of phone calls that were illegally obtained, which had been severely criticized by press organizations and media companies who called it “censorship” and an attempt to muzzle the press.

The new decision says there is no censorship and states that the media itself should determine if the recordings are in the public’s interest and whether or not they affect the private lives of those involved, La República explains.

However, the court stressed that anyone – including journalists – who actually engage in wiretapping are committing a crime, Crónca Viva adds, and “in the case of excesses, the journalist, the editors, and/or the media owners would be responsible for those excesses.”

According to La Razón, the director of the Peruvian Press Council, Kela León, said this last point was “worrying,” as its ambiguity leaves space for punishing journalists and media outlets.

Read the full court decision (in Spanish) here.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.