Research Summary and Profile
- Research interests:
- Communications, Digital resources, Digitisation, Human rights, Law, Social Sciences
- England, Ireland, Scotland, United Kingdom, Wales
- Summary of research interests and expertise:
Judith Townend is a lecturer in media and information law at the University of Sussex and an associate research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS). Previously she was director of the Information Law and Policy Centre (@infolawcentre) at the IALS.
Before joining IALS, Judith was a lecturer in City University London’s department of journalism, and research associate at University of Westminster on an AHRC-funded project looking at media plurality and ownership.
Her doctoral research, based at the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism (CLJJ) at City University London, examined defamation and privacy law and its relationship with journalistic practice in England and Wales.
She is particularly interested in interdisciplinary interrogation of information and communication law and policy, using socio-legal methods and approaches from the social sciences and humanities to understand legal developments.
Her research covers a range of legal and social topics connected by a common theme of public access to information: the policy and law that governs and facilitates access; the role of organisations and individuals that facilitate access; and the implications of different types of access for democracy and civic participation in society.
She has contributed to a range of specialist media publications, and can be found on Twitter, @jtownend.
- Publication Details
Publications available on SAS-space:
Date Details Feb-2016 Censorship and National Security: Information Control in the Second World War and Present Day
The recent criminal trials of Erol Incedal on terrorism-related charges, in which central details were kept secret from the public, suggests a lack of clarity about information control in a contemporary context. It is legitimate to restrict information in the interest of national security, but only where this is strictly necessary and when safeguards exist to maintain open justice and freedom of expression. The British experience of security censorship during the Second World War provides a compelling case study of information control in an otherwise open society that should be used to inform future policy. The self-regulated system adopted during the Second World War ensured considerable press freedom, but was hindered by a lack of planning and poor co-ordination between the press and competing authorities. The Second World War case study suggests that information control procedures will always be contentious but that they can be made more successful through careful planning and co-ordination, the involvement of a broad range of representatives, and an awareness of the public interest in imparting and receiving information. Both the historic and contemporary case studies indicate that information control in an open society will rely upon a degree of self-regulation and require clear guidelines, co-operation, and opportunities for dialogue.
Special issue - Beyond clickbait and commerce: The ethics, possibilities and challenges of not-for-profit media
This special issue of Ethical Space explores the ethical dilemmas arising in the turbulent journalistic environment created by digital transformation and its impact on the traditional media business model.
Mar-2016 The United Kingdom: The impact of charity and tax law/regulation on not-for-profit news organizations
To access this document please visit: http://bit.ly/29tg4s8. This is the UK chapter from a report published jointly by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford, and the Information Society Project, Yale University, edited by Picard, R. Belair-Gagnon, V. and Ranchordás, S. About the report: The advent of digital media means that many news organisations are re-thinking their business models, and facing new challenges. But one sector which has seen growth, is the not-for-profit start up industry. In a new report, published jointly by the Reuters Institute and the Information Society Project at Yale University, Robert H Picard, the RISJ’s North America Representative and colleagues examine the legal framework in which these operate in. Picard, along with Valerie Belair-Gagnon and Sofia Ranchordás (both Yale University), studies the challenges thrown up by legal systems which don’t include journalistic activities within the concept of ‘charitable status’. “Legal and regulatory definitions of charitable purposes hinder news organisations from achieving charitable and tax exempt status and receiving the associated benefits in Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States,” says Picard. Drawing on the regulatory systems of Australia, Canada, Ireland, The UK and The US, the report sets out to gain a clearer understanding of the legal frameworks for charitable and tax exempt status for news organisations and the distinct challenges that may hinder their development. This is the UK chapter of a co-edited report. Citation: Townend, J. 2016. ‘The United Kingdom: The impact of charity and tax law/regulation on not-for-profit news organizations’. In The impact of charity and tax law/regulation on not-for-profit news organizations, edited by Picard, R. Belair-Gagnon, V. and Ranchordás, S. Oxford/Yale: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism / Information Society Project, Yale Law School.
- Relevant Events
Date Details 22-Feb-2017 Launch of 'Protecting sources and whistleblowers in a digital age' report
Participated in launch of co-authored report 'Protecting sources and whistleblowers in a digital age' at a reception in the House of Lords.
08-Dec-2016 FOI at 250
Co-organiser of 'FOI at 250' event marking 250 years since the passing of Sweden's first right to information law. Speakers included the new Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, and Lord James Wallace of Tankerness, former member of Scottish Government, who piloted the Freedom of Information Act through the Scottish Parliament.
09-Nov-2016 Annual Information Law and Policy workshop
Co-organiser of the Information Law and Policy's second annual workshop on 9th November 2016. The workshop’s theme was: ‘Restricted and Redacted: Where now for human rights and digital information control?’ and selected papers were published in a special issue of Communications Law.
16-Sep-2016 Protecting sources and whistleblowers in a digital age
Organised by-invitation workshop on source protection for 25 investigative journalists, NGO and policy representatives and lawyers for an initiative supported by Guardian News and Media. Has resulted in report to be published in February 2017.
07-Sep-2016 Society of Legal Scholars annual conference, University of Oxford
Accepted paper, media law section, Society of Legal Scholars annual conference, University of Oxford, September 2016.
03-Aug-2016 International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) annual course
Invited presentation on data protection and the 'right to be forgotten', International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) annual conference, University of Oxford, August 2016
28-Jun-2016 Seminar on Anonymous Speech
Organised seminar to mark launch of Anonymous Speech: Law, Literature and Politics by Eric Barendt (Hart Publishing, 2016).
14-Jun-2016 Seminars on freedom of expression and media law in Seoul
Speaker at Chung-Ang Law School seminar on Freedom of Expression with Regard to Terror, Right to be Forgotten & Social Media; and Media Law Forum at the Press Arbitration Commission , Seoul, June 2016.
11-Jun-2016 International Communication Association (ICA) annual conference, Fukuoka
Panelist in a session on social media law at the International Communication Association (ICA) annual conference, Fukuoka, June 2016.
01-Jun-2016 ‘The Body of Law’
Helped faciliate exhibition by the artist Isobel Williams at Senate House in June-July 2016.
23-May-2016 Roundtable meeting on open justice and courts data
Organised roundtable meeting on open justice and courts data.
27-Apr-2016 Third Winchester Conference on Trust, Risk, Information and the Law
Invited panelist on open justice and open data, TRILCon, Third Winchester Conference on Trust, Risk, Information and the Law, University of Winchester, 27 April 2016.
16-Mar-2016 Openness in Britain 2016: Where Are We Now?
Openness in Britain 2016: Where Are We Now? With Ben Worthy (Birkbeck), Maurice Frankel (Campaign for Freedom of Information) and Heather Brooke (City University London).
08-Mar-2016 Surveillance and Human Rights seminar
Respondent to discussion on Surveillance and Human Rights - evening seminar with Kirsty Brimelow QC (Doughty Street Chambers) and Silkie Carlo (Liberty).
05-Feb-2016 ‘Overseeing the Secret State’: a symposium on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill
Speaker at ‘Overseeing the Secret State’: a symposium on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, University of Cambridge, 5 February 2016
19-Nov-2015 The Humanity of Lawyers (Being Human Festival 2015)
The Humanity of Lawyers, Inner Temple, London. Presented by the Information Law and Policy Centre, IALS, as part of the Being Human festival 2015.
27-Oct-2015 Universities and Counter-terrorism: PREVENT in Practice.
Universities and Counter-terrorism: PREVENT in Practice. Organised by the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Hosted by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.
20-Oct-2015 Democracy, governance and media reform in Sri Lanka and the Commonwealth
Speaker at ‘Democracy, governance and media reform in Sri Lanka and the Commonwealth’, seminar at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, 20 October 2015
19-Oct-2015 Whose Investigatory Power Is It Anyway? Security, Source Protection and Surveillance
Whose Investigatory Power Is It Anyway? Security, Source Protection and Surveillance debate at Reed Smith LLP. The Media Society and the Information Law and Policy Centre, IALS.
09-Oct-2015 What Next for Community Journalism?
Speaker on charitable funding for journalism at community journalism event at University of Cardiff, 9 October 2015.
28-Sep-2015 Freedom of Information: Extending Transparency to the Private Sector
Freedom of Information: Extending Transparency to the Private Sector at Baker & McKenzie LLP was presented by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law jointly with the Information Law and Policy Centre at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, and hosted by Law Firm, Baker & McKenzie. It considered the current legal framework and the range of private sector organisations that have been brought within its scope. It explored differences in transparency requirements for private contractors, and proposals to further extend the FOI regime to private companies providing public services. The event provided an opportunity to hear both sides of the debate surrounding this important topic and the practical implications of reforms in this area. Keynote speaker: Rosemary Agnew (Scottish Information Commissioner). Panelists: Steve Goodrich (Open Governance Researcher, Transparency International UK); Heather Rogers QC (One Brick Court); Martin Rosenbaum (Freedom of Information Specialist, BBC News); Dr Ben Worthy (Lecturer in Politics, Birkbeck College, University of London). Chair: Timothy Pitt-Payne QC (11 King's Bench Walk).
25-Sep-2015 The Right to be Forgotten: Removal Criteria and Procedures
In this afternoon seminar hosted by the Information Law and Policy Centre at IALS, Professor Bernd Holznagel, Director of University of Münster’s Institute for Information, Telecommunications and Media Law, offered his perspective on the European Court of Justice's decision in Google Spain SL v. AEPD / Costeja Gonzàlez, focusing on different proposals for removal criteria and procedures. The discussion was chaired by Dr Irini Katsirea, Reader of International Media Law at the Department of Journalism Studies, University of Sheffield.
This seminar was co-organised by the Information Law and Policy Centre at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies; the Middlesex University School of Law; and the Department of Journalism Studies, University of Sheffield.
25-Jun-2015 Data of our Lives: Global Privacy, Reputation and Freedom of Expression
(Chair and academic organiser) A half-day discussion seminar hosted by the Information Law and Policy Centre at IALS and ARTICLE 19 with special guest Frank LaRue, former UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression. It is just over one year since “the right to be forgotten” became firmly established in media discourse, following the European Court of Justice’s decision in Google Spain v AEPD and Mario Costeja González and its ruling that the company, and other search engines, must respond to users’ de-listing requests under EU data protection law. This small discussion seminar, featuring Frank LaRue, former UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, took a global perspective on the Google Spain case, and related issues of privacy, reputation and freedom of expression. Our discussion looked ahead to the forthcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation, and consider the broader international context for data privacy, including, for example, Max Schrems’ case in the ECJ which challenges the EU-US Safe Harbor agreement that allows US companies to transfer European personal data to US-based servers. Attendees were invited to use the seminar as an opportunity to discuss ideas for further research-based activity and collaboration on global data privacy, reputation and freedom of expression.
12-Jun-2015 Joint seminar of the DP Forum and NADPO (The National Association of Data Protection Officers)
Speaker at industry group meeting: An Introduction to the Information Law and Policy Centre
11-Jun-2015 Media, power and plurality: old problems, new policies
(Speaker) This seminar marked the publication of a new book edited by Steven Barnett and Judith Townend and featuring a number of international scholars. The event took place in the aftermath of a UK election in which media plurality was an explicit election issue, and whose outcome some commentators believe was heavily influenced by political campaigning in the traditional press. The seminar discussed some of the policy issues around media plurality and media ownership in the UK and Europe, to what extent new policy thinking and ideas might be politically feasible, and whether such initiatives are applicable across different nation states.
07-May-2015 LSE Law and Communications Network workshop: Positive free speech
Presentation on "Positive free speech & public access to courts" at specialist workshop on the rationales, methods and implications of positive free speech organised by Andrew Scott, Associate Professor, Department of Law, LSE and Andrew Kenyon, Professor of Law, University of Melbourne and Shimizu Visiting Professor of Law, LSE.
21-Apr-2015 Winchester Conference on Trust, Risk, Information and the Law
Plenary panel speaker: "Is Data Protection the New Defamation?"
01-Apr-2015 SLSA Annual Conference 2015, University of Warwick
Paper on "Information about information law and the effects of its release and restriction" in the Law Enforcement, Regulation and the Use, Abuse and Control of Information stream.
24-Feb-2015 Launch of the Information Law and Policy Centre
(Academic organiser) This launch event brought together academics and practitioners from a variety of backgrounds to share their research and ideas. Among the speakers at an afternoon workshop titled ‘Information flows and dams’ were Daithí Mac Síthigh, Reader in Law at Newcastle University, on ‘computers and the Coalition’ - an impressive digest of the incumbent government’s record on communication law; Marion Oswald, Senior Fellow at University of Winchester, on privacy vigilantism and information warfare; and Ian Brown, Professor of Information Security and Privacy at University of Oxford, on ‘dimensions of cybersecurity’. More guests joined us for an evening lecture delivered by Timothy Pitt-Payne QC, barrister at 11KBW and specialist in information rights, on ‘Does Privacy Matter?’, an eloquent and thoughtful talk on the regulation of privacy in the UK and beyond, exploring social expectations and identifying the areas in most need of further research.
19-Nov-2014 The Humanity of Judging (Being Human Festival 2015)
(Academic organiser) A special evening organised by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and the Supreme Court, as part of the Being Human Festival, offered participants a tour of the court followed by a discussion on judging in the 21st century. Chair: Lord Carnwath, Supreme Court Judge and chair of the Advisory Council of the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) | Panelist 1: Alexandra Marks, Recorder and High Court Deputy judge / Judicial Appointments Commissioner | Panelist 2: Dr Lawrence McNamara, Deputy Director & Senior Research Fellow, Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law | Panelist 3: Professor Leslie Moran, Principle Investigator, Judicial Images Network, School of Law Birkbeck | Panelist 4: Professor Erika Rackley, Professor of Law, Birmingham Law School.