Thursday, January 27, 2011...1:32 pm

Incisive Media publishes personal details of freelance sub-editors

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Incisive Media has published a PDF document on its company intranet of sub-editors’ contact details on the web. However, the document link is freely accessible to anyone without any login protection.
The document contains names, email addresses and phone numbers of 67 freelance sub-editors. In addition, some entries include a home address and professional history, which some subs may want to keep confidential. It seems that some, certainly, on the list did not give any permission for this to occur and were unaware of its existence.
A telephone call by one sub-editor to Incisive to request removal has so far been not been met. However, a call and email to David Worsfold, Incisive Media’s group editorial services director, received a categorical assurance that the free publication of this data was unintentional and would be looked into straight away to block it off from public view.
Worsfold said that the publication should not be available to the wider public, as it was on the company intranet, without being aware that the intranet seemed to have no login barrier to casual visitors. He stressed that prompt steps would be taken to change this.
According to the Office of the Information Commissioner, anyone concerned about their data being revealed in this way by Incisive Media, or any other company, should approach the company in writing (email will do) to request removal.
If Incisive Media should fail to accede to the request (or considers it has legitimate reason to publish the data), then any concerned subs should make a formal complaint to the Office of the Information Commissioner. The Office will investigate and rule if the data is being used illegitimately.
However, any potential complainant should give the company sufficient time to investigate and remedy the problem before doing so.
According to the Office of the Information Commissioner, in a case like this, dealing with personal information that is published online in a straightforward document, a company could be expected to solve the problem promptly – within 24-48 hours. [UPDATE: the data is unavailable as of 7pm the same day]
This is a tricky subject, as clearly freelance sub-editors will also want to publicise their services. However, any online publication must be with the informed consent of the person whose data is being used – specifically to avoid revealing information that might put people at risk, such as a home address.


  • It would have been nice to have been contacted before you published this story and finding the contents of an email I wrote to one individual quoted.
    Our intranet security was compromised and although we have quickly recognised that web have removed the list of sub-editors from it. As you rightly observe such lists are compiled and circulated by almost every publisher in good faith following approaches by freelance sub-editors wishing to work for us. We make every effort to keep it up to date and include what we consider to be small items of relevant information to help our production teams find the right person.
    We regret that such a list has entered the public domain and will, of course, remove anyone who no longer wishes to be included on it.

  • NB: I contacted Incisive after realising that my name was on the list of freelancers – the story came about as a result of my conversations with the Office of the Information Commissioner and Mr Worsfold. Clearly this was a simple error in terms of data privacy and the story reflects this. I am very pleased that Incisive has responded so quickly to these privacy concerns.

  • As a production editor, I’m a little confused – why do you need to put their addresses on the list at all? It’s not as if anyone’s going to write to them via snail mail to offer work! Surely email and phone is all that’s needed?

  • When I worked for Incisive Media for about a year after their Dec 2007 merger with ALM Media. I had the feeling that Kris Fischer, Bill Pollak and Tim Weller and their henchpeople were watching me, especially when I took a break to check baseball standings each Mon morning, but also if I printed out something NOT Incisive-related, wasting a nickel that should have gone to their stockholders. Sure enough, I was laid off Jan 2009 and still have no health insurance. I’m sure Weller, Pollak and Fischer are well-covered.

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